We hear stories all the time when we make offerings at nunneries.
And many of them are familiar — the usual small sad tragedies followed by rescue and happy endings.
But we heard a story when we offered at Sasanaramsi Nunnery that was…well…different. And it has a happy ending.
The nuns all go out on almsround together twice a week into the city. Generally everyone is quite disciplined, walking closely together in single file. But many of these nuns are just kids — and with kids, anything can happen.
So in this case what happened is that one of the little 7 year-old nuns became separated from the rest and got totally lost. She found a nunnery and went there for help but did not know how to describe where home was, besides “Mingaladon.”
Which is a 41 square-mile township, with hundreds of nunneries.
Within easy walking distance of Chanmyay Myaing Meditation Centre alone — in this little girl’s general neighborhood — there are almost 30 nunneries! (Here is a modified version of an old hand-drawn map I made in 2008, with the pink dots being nunneries in the neighborhood in addition to the eight numbered ones on the map. The bigger red dot is her nunnery.)
So since “Mingaladon” didn’t narrow down her address any, of course the kind stranger nuns took the little girl in — while at the same time the Sasanaramsi nuns were desperately searching everywhere for her. Unable to find her they finally went home, downhearted and very worried. They continued to make inquiries everywhere they could think of, and looked for her every time they went out.
For a whole month.
Then one day when all the nuns were out in the city on their almsrounds, just by chance everyone found each other while they were walking in opposite directions down a busy street. It was a very happy reunion, and a lucky ending of what could have been a much more forlorn story. Now the nuns laugh about the experience, but it was clearly trying for everyone involved.
Going out for alms is exhausting, and sometimes it’s a risky business (when it involves crossing busy roads). But while we could never have imagined it, getting lost occasionally happens too.
As does getting found.
Fortunately this is Burma, and she was a nun. So the little girl in the middle of this story didn’t end up sleeping on the street, nor did she meet up with dangerous strangers. She was offered shelter and kindness, and taken in by other nuns as one of the family.
And then miraculously, she found her way home.
‘Happily ever after’ is a myth. But sometimes even ‘happily for now’ is a wondrous thing.