A Buddha Comes Home – Celebrating the Life of Thich Nhat Hanh at Magnolia Grove Monastery

by Jerome Cabeen

The procession serpentined through the campus, from the main gate to Thây’s hut he used when he visited the monastery, to the large meditation hall and finally to a small grove toward the back of the monastery that was home to a beautiful statue of Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. My understanding was that the monastics and novitiates were to receive some of Thây’s ashes in their hands and would spread them around the monastery. However, my heart filled with joy, and the tears I had been holding back for several hours started to drop, when I realized anyone at the monastery could receive some of Thây’s ashes and return them to the soil from whence he came. I put my cameras and backpack down after several hours of carrying them throughout the grounds and joined the long line of people waiting to return Thây to the earth. I knew immediately where I was going to spread his ashes after receiving them, I walked mindfully, quietly and sacredly as I could until I was swallowed by the shadow of two giants that had walked our planet, making it more just and peaceful. I looked up at the statue of Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and knelt quietly in front of it. I whispered to the ashes, “Thây look….your friend has been waiting patiently for you for all these years. It is time you both are together again.” Gently, I released the ashes in the flower bed at the base of the statue, then I reached up and lovingly touched each man on the cheek and the heart and said, “You two have much to catch up on.”

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