Updated: Feb 5
5:30 am, I put a soft blanket on the glass table to add warmth to my arms and started to write my three morning pages. These quiet moments of solitude helped to quiet my mind.
The words “Breath in. I have arrived. Breath out. I am home.” landed on my page. That was Zen master Thich Naht Hanh’s teaching. One of the greatest spiritual teachers of our time, Thich Naht Hanh passed away on January 22, 2022, at the age of 95. The Father of Mindfulness, his students call him Thay —the teacher.
Ever since his passing six days ago, I have been following the livestream from Plum Village, a community founded by Thay in France, and joined their daily ceremony to celebrate his life and his teaching.
Samuel came out of our room at seven.
“Come, love, sit with me. Would you like to watch Thich Naht Hanh’s teaching video with me?” I patted our favorite brown leather loveseat.
He came and gave me a gentle kiss. I put a small pillow behind his back and wrapped both of us in a soft blanket. “Comfortable?” I asked.
“Yes.” He looked content. His gentle smile reminded me of the Zen master himself.
On screen, Thay’s voice was full of compassion and peace. He shared the four relationship mantras he practiced:
Honey, I am here for you.
Honey, I know you are here for me and I am so happy.
Honey, I know you are in pain and I am here for you.
Honey, I am in pain, please help me.
When the video finished, I looked at Samuel, my eyes full of compassion. “Last night I heard Norden shouting upstairs when I was in my writer’s retreat. Honey, I am here for you, if you want to share.”
For the next 10 minutes, Samuel gently told me about the whole episode.
“Norden thrives on arguing and debating. I am proud you didn’t lose your temper last night,” I said sincerely. When I practiced deep compassionate listening, even without intervention, I noticed Samuel's suffering had already lessened.
I carried on, “In two years, Serena will be in college. In these two years, I want to do everything I can to build the most amazing mother and daughter relationship with her. I want her to know that I am always here for her, and the same for Norden. I am so happy we are their chosen parents.”
Samuel’s face softened even more, filled with love for our children.
“My book is in its third editing round. I can feel I am being called to move forward with teaching. Ever since I heard Mother Teresa in India say, “Child, you can do it.” I knew that I can, I will, and I must. Thich Naht Hanh is a sign." I smiled at him, “Samuel, Year 2022 is our year.”
“We continue to evolve. Every year is our year.” Samuel responded with a twinkle in his eyes.
“Yes, every year is our year.” I knew he was right.