A Quiet Revival

goinghome
Posted July 7, 2011 from Ireland

In 1999 everything was falling in on me. The promises of a brave new world for modern women yawned empty. I was being left behind in the corporate race, elbowed aside for questioning. I entered relationships with Dr Jekylls, only to wind up grieving over their transformation into Dr Hydes. Scattered family members kept in less and less contact. Even philanthropic associations I’d joined, including a meditation group, were disbanding due to ignominious financial conflicts. I was disenchanted with life and rendered cynical about the worthwhileness of any values.

From four unrelated sources within several weeks, unsolicited information about a man called Thich Nhat Hanh was fed to me. A Buddhist monk and teacher who hailed from Vietnam, he headed up a community in France called Plum Village where guests could stay at certain times of the year. Since my procrastination for whatever reasons in nesting down meant that I could either end up alone or imposed somewhere short of a hearty welcome for Christmas, my interest was piqued enough to book a place, pack a case and fly to Bordeaux. Between dawn rising, hours of sitting meditation and silence, household chores and cramped living conditions, I grimaced inwardly at first over the privations of taken-for-granted liberties. But something happened.

Nearly every week-day I spent there, Thich Nhat Hanh spoke to the congregation for over an hour. His voice and his gaze touched hearts while children played quietly at his feet. He had suffered. As a young monk in his home country, after invigorating his order with modes of artistic expression and introducing social engagement practices to Buddhism, the Vietnam war broke out, pitting brother against brother. He tried to arrange to help each side, rescuing bodies dead and alive from the rivers and restoring bombed towns, but the extent of the relentless damage called for an extraordinary deed. He left to seek international support, touring Europe and America, where Martin Luther King Junior nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. His government exiled him for standing up, only permitting him to return in 2005.

In prison, Oscar Wilde wrote, “Where there is sorrow, there is holy ground.” Once released, Wilde campaigned for prison reforms to prevent institutionalised abuses he witnessed inside. That’s what I learned that winter: to breath, smile and care, whichever side of the bars I landed, as long as I live.

My Story: Standing Up

Comments 6

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Nusrat Ara
Jul 08, 2011
Jul 08, 2011

Thanks for sharing.

Love

Fatima Waziri - Azi
Jul 08, 2011
Jul 08, 2011

Thank you for sharing this powerful story, you write beautifully. This must have been an awesome and life changing experience for you right? The fact that you knew what to do when you needed to do it, when things were falling apart around you was fabulous. Some people in your situation would have given up but you did not. I particularly loved this statement "to breath, smile and care, whichever side of the bars I landed, as long as I live....." which literally means; never give up, as long as there is life there is hope.

Ps...What's your name?

Carrie Lee
Jul 09, 2011
Jul 09, 2011

What a beautiful story of transformation. Thank you for sharing it.

Carrie

goinghome
Jul 12, 2011
Jul 12, 2011

Dear Nusrat, Fatima and Carrie

Your comments are very kind. I'll be looking for everyone else's story as I find my way round the site.

Best wishes

Carol

AyeshaM
Jul 14, 2011
Jul 14, 2011

Dear Carol,

Thank you for sharing this lovely story. That last line is a lesson to us all.

Warmly, Ayesha

ana hamuka
Jul 16, 2011
Jul 16, 2011

thank you so much for taking the time to share this story with the world pulse community!

xx ana