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A friend’s brother was beaten to death behind a liquor store, her second brother killed. I don’t know how she holds the pain…how she’ll tell her mother. Another young woman took another drink after a year of attempting sobriety. Please guard and protect all my friends struggling with the horrible disease of alcoholism, but especially these two today. And another sober for many years flying home after seeing her dying sister for the last time and having a wonderful visit to the cherry blossoms with us. I also witnessed fourth friend able to share so deeply from her heart her pain and the solution to that pain, her faith and her spiritual path! All in the first few hours of my day

So, the joy and sorrow are ONE, the insanity and the solution are ONE, the beauty of our city and its pain are ONE. Help me see that today. Not opposites….the same thing! When we are suffering, a baby’s smile, sunshine coming from behind a cloud, a guitar playing, a gentle touch are all just as real as the tears.

This song from the Plum Village songbook, A Basket of Plums, based on Thich Nhat Hanh‘s poem of the same name says it better than any of my own words:
Please Call Me by My True Names

My joy’s like spring so warm,
It makes flowers bloom
All over the earth.
My pain’s like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
So I can hear
All my cries and laughter at once,
So I can hear
that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
So I can wake up
And the door of my heart
will remain open.

The door of compassion.

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