Honoring Thay on a snowy day

Thich Nhat Hanh
Photo by Duc (pixiduc) from Paris, France., CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Last night as I prepared to go to sleep, I found out that Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay), beloved Zen Master and Buddhist monk had passed away. The announcement kind of took my breath away… and then I remembered everything he had taught me.

Sit. Breathe. Smile. Be.

Do one thing at a time.

You are here. Be here.

It was snowing outside my window. I sat in my dark room, watching the tiny flakes swirl in the wind, sparkling in the flood lights, night’s darkness their backdrop. A moment of zen.

When I awoke in the night I looked outside again. The ground was silver with fluffy snow, reflective and bright even without the light of the moon.

This morning I arose to the beauty and stillness of a snow-covered world. I made a cup of tea and lit a candle to honor Thay. As I sat with my tea, I remembered the very first lesson he taught me – when you drink tea, drink tea. Don’t do anything else. Smell the tea, feel its warmth, savor its feel and flavor, hold the cup gently in your hands. Just be there with your tea. Be here, in this moment, and no where else. It was a profound lesson and changed the way I moved through my days forevermore.

Just before the sun rose, I walked around our homestead in the fluffy snow. The forest was still, hushed, as though honoring Thay with its own brand of silence. Rocks that had peaked out from last weekend’s ice were now white lumps under a snowy blanket. Snow clung to one side of the trees or rested in thin lines on top of their limbs. Last years’ seed pods wore caps of white. Everything looked different from the day before. Another lesson from Thay – nothing is permanent. I laid down on the ground and made a snow angel, the cold seeping into my skin. It will melt away with the snow, never to be seen again. Letting go.

Life is lived one moment at a time, one choice at a time. We can choose to be present and marvel at each wonder we experience, understand our interconnectedness with all the cosmos, and offer our best selves to others… or not. Today, I live each moment in presence, in mindfulness, in honor of Thay and in awe of this impermanent, marvelous snowy landscape we’ve been gifted for awhile.

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