Dear Still Water Friends,
This Thursday evening, after our meditation, we will gather for a special Night of Remembrance to honor loved ones who have passed away. It is a time to celebrate, to share, to grieve, and to look more deeply into our inter-being-ness.
Mary Beth Hatem, who originated the idea for a Night of Remembrance, explains the rationale and flow of the evening:
A year ago, when I first thought about a special Still Water event, I was motivated by wanting to mark my Dad’s passing and at the same time wanting to honor and deepen my connection to the sangha. One year later and again I mourn—my mother in August, and now this month a loss beyond imagining—my brother-in-law, at age 54, dead moments after completing a run, a good run that left him in high spirits.
For many of us, this year has brought fresh losses and new connections to those who live on in our hearts. We have often spoken of great pain as we have lost spouses, parents, siblings, so many significant others. Many of us, I know, feel as I do—deeply touched by the deaths of people we know only through Thursday night sharings. We mostly did not experience the viewings, the funerals, the memorial services that deepened connections within the various congregations, parishes, synagogues, and other communities that hosted these events. I know that, even as I incorporated Thay’s teachings into my own process and welcomed friends from Still Water, still I felt the lack of my mindfulness brothers and sisters as I moved this year through the rituals set out by the worship communities of my mother and, more recently, my brother-in-law.
This week let us again join together and remember those who have this year transitioned, leaving us here to look to our hearts, to celebrate the gifts and to bear the burdens that are now uniquely ours. What have we learned from those we have lost, or even from our grief? What is the legacy of those who we carry most tenderly, most raggedly in our hearts?
We will speak of loved ones whose deaths have challenged us over recent months Please consider bringing a photo or a memento of someone special to you whose loss feels especially alive to you at this moment. If you are able, please consider bringing a flower, a single stem or two, or a candle. We will take some moments to create a common altar.
You are invited to be with us for this community gathering.
An excerpt from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Living Buddha, Living Christ and The Contemplation on No-Coming, No-Going are below.
Special Note: Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village Monastics will be offering retreats and days of mindfulness in North America, August to October, 2013. Information is available at www.tnhtour.org .
The Sunflowers Are There
by Thich Nhat Hanh, from Living Buddha, Living Christ, 1995)
In April, we cannot see sunflowers in France, so we might say the sunflowers do not exist. But the local farmers have already planted thousands of seeds, and when they look at the bare hills, they may be able to see the sunflowers already. The sunflowers are there. They lack only the conditions of sun, heat, rain and July. Just because we cannot see them does not mean that they do not exist.
Contemplation of No-Coming, No-Going
from the Ceremony for the Deceased in Chanting from the Heart
This body is not me,
I am not limited by this body.
I am life without boundaries.
I have never been born,
and I have never died.
Look at the ocean and the sky filled with stars,
Manifestations from my wondrous true mind.
Since before time, I have been free.
Birth and death are only doors through which we pass,
sacred thresholds on our journey.
Birth and death are a game of hide-and-seek.
So laugh with me,
hold my hand,
let us say good-bye,
say good-bye, to meet again soon.
We meet today,
We will meet again tomorrow.
We will meet at the source every moment.
We meet each other in all forms of life.