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A Day with Thich Nhat Hanh

A Day with Thich Nhat Hanh

Back in June when my daughter wondered what to get me for my birthday, her 9-year-old daughter said, “Get her something on her bucket list.” Donna said, “What’s on her bucket list?” The exuberant answer was, “SEE A PUFFIN.” Well, that was not to happen on this year’s birthday but it set Donna to thinking and she knew that seeing Thich Nhat Hanh was also on my bucket list.

September 1st she and I went to Blue Cliff Monastery in New York with two thousand other people who had the same thing on their bucket lists and I saw him. I experienced him. I felt him. You see, I knew that with my poor hearing, I would not hear him but that wasn’t my main thing. There are people I have read about, or read things they’ve written, and I just want to be in the same space—to experience them.

And I did that with Thich Nhat Hanh. Chairs were set up. We were almost at the time when he should appear and slowly I became aware that people who had been sitting were now standing with their hands folded in front of them as if in prayer but also in respect. More and more people stood. I did too. And then I saw him, coming toward the auditorium, walking slowly, three or four monks behind him.

Tears came to my eyes. He was what I knew he would be. He is 86 now and I am 80—and wonder of wonders we were in the same space. He talked for almost two hours, with interruptions for stretching and moving. I could not hear him, but it was o.k. because I didn’t expect to.

He led a mindfulness walk and I watched because my 80-year-old back was obviously not in as good a shape as his 86-year-old back. Even that, watching it, was what I knew it would be. On each side of him, he held the hand of a child and he walked, calmly, with mindfulness.

He spreads peace – by being peace. I’m glad I was there.

 

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