I got myself into a mood last night while Steve was gone. We had mailed out job applications earlier that day for Old World Wisconsin, a seasonal living history museum, and gradually my anxieties about my life and work began escalating. I searched the internet like a magic 8 ball, and the best advice I found was a quote from Teddy Roosevelt, “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
What is “work worth doing”? How do I want to spend my life’s energy? What is worth it? Am I even worthy of my life if I don’t do something worth doing with it? Steve came home to find me sitting in the dark, staring out the window. “Are you okay?” he asked tentatively. Fortunately, we both have the ability to laugh at our moods, acknowledge them and joke about them and pay attention to them without getting too attached to them. I did some doodling and some stream-of-consciousness writing and played my sopranino recorder a bit to loosen up and allow something to emerge. I fell asleep with this phrase in my head: “Teach peace”.
This morning my thoughts turned to flowers and Thich Nhat Hahn. He is one of the greatest teachers of peace, in my opinion. If you’ve never heard of him, I urge you to do a little research. Reading his books helped me through pivotal stages of grief and anger and crises of faith after my husband died. I got a very personal message from his words, but his vision is for the entire world as well. Peace begins internally and has consequences on a global scale. I do believe that. Today, I invite you to a meditation using Thich Nhat Hahn’s words and photos I took last summer of peonies from our garden. I hope it nudges you awake to the happiness in you…as it did for me!
“If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.”
– Thich Nhat Hahn, Being Peace
“The source of love is deep in us and we can help others realize a lot of happiness. One word, one action, one thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring that person joy.”
“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
“Each moment is a chance for us to make peace with the world, to make peace possible for the world, to make happiness possible for the world.”
― Teachings on Love
“Our notions about happiness entrap us. We forget that they are just ideas. Our idea of happiness can prevent us from actually being happy. We fail to see the opportunity for joy that is right in front of us when we are caught in a belief that happiness should take a particular form.”
”The earth is so beautiful. We are beautiful also. We can allow ourselves to walk mindfully, touching the earth, our wonderful mother, with each step. We don’t need to wish our friends, ‘Peace be with you.’ Peace is already with them. We only need to help them cultivate the habit of touching peace in each moment.”
Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk
without thinking of arriving anywhere.
Our walk is a peace walk.
Our walk is a happiness walk.
Then we learn
that there is no peace walk;
that peace is the walk;
that there is no happiness walk;
that happiness is the walk.
We walk for ourselves.
We walk for everyone
always hand in hand.
Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.
Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Print on Earth your love and happiness.
Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety.
– from Call Me by My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh
“Smile, breathe, and go slowly.”