Tears Become Rain

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Dear Still Water Friends,

A new book, Tears Become Rain: Stories of Healing and Transformation Inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh will be released on Tuesday, October 10th. The book’s title comes from a line in a poem that Thay wrote in 1964 during the war in Vietnam, “The tears I shed yesterday have become rain. He wrote:


Life has left her footprints on my forehead.
But I have become a child again this morning.
The smile, seen through leaves and flowers,
is back to smooth away the wrinkles,
as the rains wipe away footprints on the beach.
Again a cycle of birth and death begins.

I walk on thorns, but firmly, as among flowers.
I keep my head high.
Rhymes bloom among the sounds of bombs and mortars.
The tears I shed yesterday have become rain.
I feel calm hearing its sound on the thatched roof.
Childhood, my birthland, is calling me,
and the rains melt my despair.

I am still here alive, able to smile quietly.
O sweet fruit brought forth by the tree of suffering!
Carrying the dead body of my brother,
I go across the rice field in the darkness.
Earth will keep you tight within her arms, my dear,
so that tomorrow you will be reborn as flowers,
those flowers smiling quietly in the morning field.
This moment you weep no more, my dear.
We have gone through too deep a night.

This morning,
I kneel down on the grass,
when I notice your presence.
Flowers that carry the marvelous smile of ineffability
speak to me in silence.

The message,
the message of love
and understanding,
has indeed come to us.

The poem embodies, for me, Thay’s commitment to love and be present to life’s beauty while embracing its inevitable adversity. 

In 2019, Jeanine Cogan and Mary Hillebrand conceived of Tears Become Rain. They received more than a hundred submissions and, over the next few years, selected essays by thirty-two authors from sixteen countries. They edited the essays and shaped the book into seven thematic sections. Joann Malone and I (Eliza King) are two of the contributing authors. 

Joann’s story begins with her first connection with Thich Nhat Hanh while she was an activist nun opposing the Vietnam War. With the help of mindfulness meditation, Joann overcame her active alcoholism and transformed her blaming of her father into love and compassion. 

My story is about arriving at a sense of peace with my visual impairment, both how my eyes appear to others and how I see the world, and the powerful role that mindfulness practice played in that journey.

I think of Tears Become Rain as a fresh-blooming flower, containing the elements of each author’s composted suffering. We are honored to be Thay’s continuation in this way, offering to others the fruit of looking deeply into our suffering and practicing the teachings. I hope the stories will inspire new students and reinvigorate long-time practitioners.

This Thursday evening, after our meditation, we will listen to Thay’s poem, then Joann and I will read excerpts from our chapters. In our Dharma sharing, the community will focus on how tears have become rain in each of our our lives. Joann and I will also answer questions about our stories and the book.

You are warmly invited to be with us!

Eliza King

You are also invited to register for either of two online Parallax launch events on Tuesday, October 10. (Joann will read from her chapter at the 1pm EST Zoom and Eliza will read at the 7pm EST Zoom.)

For DC area folks, Eliza and Joann be part of an in-person book launch event at People’s Book, Takoma Park on Friday Oct 13th at 6pm.

All proceeds from the book will go to the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation. 

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