When I was growing up, my mom often held my hands in hers. She would carefully size my palms against hers and remark how quickly I was growing. She would trace my fingers and marveled at how long they were. They would be prettier than hers, she was convinced. Little did she know then, no other hands could be more beautiful than hers. To me.Read More »
Almost a year ago, I chanced upon this beautiful poem by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese monk who is also known as ‘Thay’ (means teacher) to his students. Recognized as the father of mindfulness in the West, he was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in 1967. He has written over 100 books, 40 of which have been translated to English. Although I can’t quite say that I am a Buddhist, his teachings have deeply resonated with me and his life of service, a lifelong inspiration.
I have just learned that he is now awaiting the end of his life in his home country. I thought of the many lives he has touched through his wisdom, courage and compassion. In his honor, I am sharing this poem of one-ness with you.
I wish you all a blessed week ahead.
Please Call Me By My True Names
by Thich Nhat Hanh
Do not say that I’ll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.
Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.
I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.
I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.
I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.
I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda.
I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate,
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.
I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hands,
and I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to, my people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.
My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all walks of life.
My pain is like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.
“A true friend holds us lovingly accountable to our own ideals, but is also able to forgive, over and over, the ways in which we fall short of them and can assure us that we are more than our stumbles, that we are shaped by them but not defined by them, that we will survive […]
“I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out.”
~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning