Be a light in the world

Sunday, November 6th 2017, a group of us was finishing up a multi-day meditation retreat. Our group of Zen meditation practitioners have been here for four days. During those four days, our schedule included long periods of sitting and walking meditation, 2-3 hours several times a day, working meditation, eating meditation, and free-time periods where we often wandered alone in the beautiful nature. After several full days of complete silence, surrounded with bird chirping, of fresh wild animal footprints, of the smell of the pine wood where we were staying, I felt so much peace, love and joy.

The last meal of our retreat is an informal lunch, in which everyone is allowed to talk so we can say good-byes, get to know each other a little bit before departing on our own way. I feel so much love and peace. Everyone feels the same way. We appreciate each other, appreciate this world and all the goodness that it has to offer. The smiles, the laughter and the chatting are joyously resonating all around me.

Right about this time, sister Florence (one of the two Catholic nuns who care for this place and have been cooking for us during the retreat) comes out. Sister Florence and sister Rita are two of the kindest, most loving, most caring, and upbeat people on earth that I have ever known. They always greeted us with the warmest brightest smile and the tightest hug :). Sister Florence had even sung for us to say “good bye” during our previous retreats here. The sisters are the ones who taught me to do things with mindfulness, do things with love and with heart, more than any Zen practice could have taught me. Sister Florence came out with teary eyes, and told us about the shooting inside a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Our heart breaks. We didn’t know what to say. The tragedy is too much to bear, and the fact that it is committed inside a church where people gather for worship, for fellowship, for love is just too much to accept.

After so much love and joy we experience, we are brought back to the reality of life that there is so much pain, suffering, and sadness in this world still.

I could feel her pain. I could feel everyone’s pain. In place of the laugher and chatting that was going on a few minutes prior is now a dreaded silence.

Sister Florence spoke again: I so appreciated the time you spent here over the last few days with us. We need more peace and love in this world. We need more people like you. Go and be the change you want to see in the world. Be a light in the world.

She is right. Each one of us has the potential to be a light in the world. Each one of us has the intelligence and the resourcefulness to make a positive difference in this world. If you think not, think about the last time someone smiled at you when you needed it most, think about the last time someone gave you a hug and comforted you, think about someone saying something encouraging to you and lifting you up. Can you be that person to others?

As for me, I walked away thinking about what I can do. Her words sank in me. What can I do to be the change in the world, and a light in the world? And, a light bulb went up. I have experienced so much love and joy in the last few days. I can share this meditation practice with others. I know meditation helped me greatly in my life journey, and I have done this for decades. I know it can be a great instrument to help individuals find joy, peace and love.

Hence, I found a studio, and opened up meditation classes for the community. It has been going on for more than a month now. We have several groups coming and practicing on a regular basis. It also gives me so much joy to see how relaxed people feel after each session. I know I am doing a small part to be the change I want to see in the world.

What are you going to do today?


With loving heart,

Thanh Nguyen

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