We’ve received many beautiful messages this week. Sadly, many of them include stories of losses like ours. One of my friends shared a passage from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hahn and said it offered comfort in his/her grief:

“In my hermitage in France there is a bush of japonica, Japanese quince. The bush usually blossoms in the spring, but one winter it had been quite warm and the flower buds had come early. During the night a cold snap arrived and brought with it frost. The next day while doing walking meditation, I noticed that all the buds on the bush had died … A few weeks later the weather became warm again. As I walked in my garden I saw new buds on the japonica manifesting another generation of flowers. I asked the japonica flowers: ‘Are you the same as the flowers that died in the frost or are you different flowers?’ The flowers replied to me: “Thay, we are not the same and we are not different. When conditions are sufficient we manifest and when conditions are not sufficient we go into hiding. It’s as simple as that.’

“This is what the Buddha taught. When conditions are sufficient things manifest. When conditions are no longer sufficient things withdraw. They wait until the moment is right for them to manifest again.

“If a baby has been lost it means that conditions were not enough for him to manifest and the child has decided to withdraw in order to wait for better conditions. ‘I had better withdraw; I’ll come back again soon, my dearest.’ We have to respect his or her will… It is because there were not sufficient causes and conditions for it to arrive at that time. It will come again.”

— Thich Nhat Hanh, No death, No fear (2002:3-4;13-14).

April 8th – Graham’s birthday, and the day we went into labor with both Graham and Georgia – is also the birthday of the Buddha. He taught that the only way to free ourselves from the pain of death and impermanence is to confront and, eventually, accept that the world has its own way. To let go of our own fear and sadness and find our true nature in love and compassion.

Our babies had neither fear nor pain; they just had love and beauty. And that helped us set our grief aside long enough to find our true natures and love them while they were with us. We’re trying to draw strength from that now.

I’d never heard of Japonica, or flowering quince, before reading this passage, but it strikes me as something familiar now. Its foliage emerges in the spring and shows itself for only a short time. But its beauty, while not long-lasting, is striking, and its many branches make it easy to share with others.

My beautiful flowers. If and when conditions are right for you to come again, your mother and I will be watching.