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Easing the Journey Through Shadow & Light

  • Dawn

Beloved Small Giant

Anti-anxiety Tool of the Week: Help Something Grow

Since it's winter it's hard to do any gardening, but how about adding a little pot to your windowsill? In addition to inspiration, it may even provide something healthy that you can eventually eat (without an additional trip to go to the grocery store). And it's doing something happy and productive with your hands.

Sprouting seeds in a quart jar is an option, a quick way to have a little fresh and healthy food and be amazed by the miracle of seeds. Try Handy Pantry, SproutPeople or Sproutman for seeds, supplies, and tons of information. If you want, they'll take you way beyond the quart jar routine, or you can just order a few seeds.

My current favorite way to eat alfalfa sprouts? With a hard-boiled egg. They are perfect foils for each other: one dense and intense, the other light and clean and green. Mayo is optional, though I admit (just a little shamefully), not for Lawrence and me!

Beloved Small Giant

"'Using hatred to fight hatred is the surest way to create more hatred.' These words were penned over fifty years ago by a man who, just a few months earlier, had suffered the loss of four young friends--his students--by cold-blooded murder. Yet, remarkably, he was able to move through his grief and anger to a place of compassion. And wisdom." (from my June 2020 blog post about him)

That man went on to become a world-renowned mindfulness teacher and author, and a leading proponent of compassionate nonviolence--Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, who died last week at age 95.

I met him when I was twelve, and was touched even then by his compassion and his devotion to his people, who were suffering through a terrible war. (Has there ever been a war that wasn't terrible?)

"He was tiny," I wrote in a second post about him, "probably weighing less than I did at the time. Dressed in monks' robes, he had a shy smile and a boyish face. In some ways he seemed fragile, but I might have been mistaking fragility for simplicity. Simplicity based not in naivete, but because he had already let go of everything extraneous. Or the fragility I thought I sensed may have been the fragility of fire."

In a play he wrote during the Vietnam war about those four students, he had one of them say (postmortem): "If I worked hard it was not because I had any illusion about my ability to change the situation. It would be very much like trying to extinguish a forest fire with cups of water. But I did have faith then, and still do have faith now, that our work was of some value because it began to sow some seeds of tolerance and love in men's hearts."

He faithfully scattered seeds of love, tolerance, peace, prayer, compassion, mindfulness, non-violence, humor and joy his entire life, touching millions of people around the world,.

In his death he continues to scatter seeds: directly--see his poem "Oneness" below--and indirectly, as around the world people remember his strength and his kindness, send on his poems and meditations, recall the wise or funny or helpful things he said. And are humbled and inspired, taking heart from his tremendous courage which was honed in the midst of the violence and fear and ugliness of war.

Martin Luther King referred to him as "an apostle of peace and non-violence" when he nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Dalai Lama called him "my friend and spiritual brother." He went on to say that "in his dedication to sharing with others not only how mindfulness and compassion contribute to inner peace, how also how individuals cultivating peace of mind contributes to genuine world peace, the Venerable lived a truly meaningful life....I have no doubt the best way we can pay tribute to him is to continue his work to promote peace in the world." (VNExpress)

Here is a poem I wrote for him several years ago--my tiny contribution.

Long-life Prayer for Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

Beloved small giant,

you touch the love and laughter

buttons in our hearts.

May your heart,



always rest in the love

of the eternal now.

May you laugh long

into the night,

and waking,

love the new dawn

as well.

If you are not already familiar with him, perhaps you can get sense of his wonderful spirit through the two poems below. Both are from Call Me by My True Names, his book of poems published in 2001.


The moment I die,

I will try to come back to you

as quickly as possible.

I promise it will not take long.

Isn’t it true

I am already with you

in every moment?

I come back to you

in every moment.

Just look,

feel my presence.

If you want to cry,

please cry.

And know

that I will cry with you.

The tears you shed

will heal us both.

Your tears are mine.

The earth I tread this morning

transcends history.

Spring and Winter are both present in the moment.

The young leaf and the dead leaf are really one.

My feet touch deathlessness,

and my feet are yours.

Walk with me now.

Let us enter the dimension of oneness

and see the cherry tree blossom in Winter.

Why should we talk about death?

I don’t need to die

to be back with you.

Thich Nhat Hanh

The Good News

The good news They do not print. The good news We do print. We have a special edition every moment, And we need you to read it. The good news is that you are alive, That the linden tree is still there Standing firm in the harsh Winter.

The good news is that you have wonderful eyes To touch the blue sky. The good news is that your child is there before you, And your arms are available: Hugging is possible. They only print what is wrong. Look at each of our special editions. We always offer the things that are not wrong. We want you to benefit from them And help protect them. The dandelion is there by the sidewalk, Smiling its wondrous smile, Singing the song of eternity. Listen! You have ears that can hear it. Bow your head. Listen to it. Leave behind the world of sorrow And preoccupation And get free. The latest good news Is that you can do it.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Until next time,


Photo credits:

Sprouts, Quin Engle, unSplash

The Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh, Mindfulness Community of Puget Sound

Boat on river in Vietnam, Filip Sochor, unSplash

Woman and child, Jordan Whitt, unSplash

Man and boy, Gita Krishnamurti , unSplash

Dandelion, Natalia Luchanko, unSplash


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