They say that two of the most difficult times in our lives is the death of a mother and the death of a teacher. The passing of Thich Nhat Hanh, as we call dear Thay for teacher, has definitely left a noticeable hole in me. I’ve been trying to reconcile with this each day. However that hole is also recognizably whole with love and gratitude. Another sign that we are whole and empty simultaneously.
The more I observe these feelings the more I realize the importance of being willing to feel. Feel it all, not just what makes us feel warm and fuzzy, but the hurt and even anger. With difficult emotions, there is always the option to numb out. Sadly in society today, when we feel too much stress, it has become easier to find a pill or a distraction to not have to feel what arises. How will we ever find a path to understanding what we do feel if we mask it, deny it's place or try to push it away?
When I returned to Italy from Ireland last week I found myself super frustrated with the bureaucracy around the vaccination green pass that you need to do anything or go anywhere here. If you get a booster there is an automatic six month extension. If you get sick and recover, there is no immediate extension without jumping through hoops. Even though it makes total sense that you will have better immunity having been sick than the booster could provide. Many times I’d catch myself wanting to scream ‘for God’s sake’ or ‘for goodness sake’ to the policy makers and enforcers I'd try to deal with. The more I witnessed this frustration growing in me, the more I realized I was far from thinking ‘for love’s sake’. This idea would at least birth a little humour, which is always a good place to start.
With a little reminder to practice deep breathing and change the lens to keeping love alive in me, or perhaps wake it up, I'd notice my resilience and tolerance to what I have no control over grew, as did my skillset to deal. Love is the best weapon we can keep in our artillery. It’s the seed, the flower and the fertilizer. It might feel like we need all the conditions in our life to be right in order to achieve love. But that is not so. Love is a verb and it can’t exist if it doesn’t start within ourselves. Thay would say "There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way." If we remember to water love as our foundation daily, it will be the best nutrient of all and give us the tools we need to deal with the weeds and any toxicity we encounter. It will give us the foundation to spot the diamonds deep in the earth and thank the earth for the diamonds. Gratitude is bountiful with love.
So my friend, on this day… how will you show up for love? For your sweet self, your ancestors, your community and all that you encounter?
Sending much love from the delightful and wonky path out of our times.