By Jes Wright
I sat down under a blossoming cherry tree to write about my favorite love story, but I feared that my words would barely be gracious enough to tell the story of another’s love journey.
The story was delicate like the tips of the cherry buds on the branches—an opening of trust and possibility.
Is that not what all love involves?
An unfolding of a pink bud into petals—an opening for the nectar of living.
And so, too, was the love story of a monk and a nun who met in their youth at a monastery in Vietnam. The monk told of his surprise at being in love with a nun.
“As a monk, you are not supposed to fall in love, but sometimes love is stronger than your determination,” Thich Nhat Hanh wrote about his first love.
Yes, this love story was about Thich Nhat Hanh; and I, too, felt stunned to read of his having been in love. He described the meeting of his first love within the pages of Cultivating the Mind of Love.
Here was the master of mindfulness who shared love in so many ways, and he was like all of us, after all.
As I sat cross-legged under the blossoming cherry, I reread Hanh’s story of a surprise meeting with a nun, and the overwhelming feelings for her.
He sat with his emotions of love, read poetry, and wrote poetry, trying to come to an awareness about love.
Over the following days at the monastery, their connection deepened.
Hanh’s words shared his experience:
“I didn’t sleep much that night. The next morning after sitting and chanting, I proposed that we go to the kitchen and build a fire. It was cold and she agreed. We had a cup of tea together, and I tried my best to tell her that I loved her. I said many things, but I couldn’t say that. I spoke about other things, hoping she would understand. She listened intently, with compassion, and then she whispered, ‘I don’t understand a word you’ve said.’
But the next day she told me she understood.
It was difficult for me, but much more difficult for her. My love was like a storm, and she was being caught and carried away by the energy of the storm. She had tried to resist, but couldn’t, and she finally accepted. We both needed compassion.
We were young, and we were being swept away.
We had the deepest desire to be a monk and a nun—to carry forward what we had been cherishing for a long time—yet we were caught by love.”
His story danced through my mind as I watched cherry petals flutter in the breeze with the backdrop of a brilliant blue sky.
I’d like to believe that these kind of connections are called soul love. We meet another at a pivotal moment in our journey—that place in which we are finding our soul’s purpose. They help us awaken to the beauty within ourselves.
Soul love is divine, an experience that holds less words, but more energy—a glowing golden ball of connection that is not defined, but held dear and close to one’s heart.
Soul love isn’t necessarily our first love, as it is a love knowing no order, or time and place, simply a love within a love.
In Hahn’s eyes, the nun reflected all the beauty and work he strove to share with his community, country and world. He saw beauty such as these cherry blossoms in the February sunshine. A moment, and an eternity.
Love does that for us, mixing all of time into a thread we weave through our hearts.
As love stories go, Hahn’s ending wasn’t really an end, but a beginning.
Once again, in Hanh’s words:
“I remembered the moment we parted.
We sat across from each other. She, too, seemed overwhelmed by despair. She stood up, came close to me, took my head in her arms, and drew me close to her in a very natural way. I allowed myself to be embraced. It was the first and last time we had any physical contact.
Then we bowed and separated.”
In one way or another, we’ve all felt the intense power of saying good-bye, especially in those moments we don’t want to let go, and yet we find more love in ourselves by doing so.
I leaned against the cherry tree watching the petals dance in the breeze as if to show that letting go may be a pleasure.
We can only share a moment of love, and move on, hopefully there will be more moments, or maybe it remains as the only one.
And so, I end my gracious sharing of my favorite love story even though it is the beginning for you—the reader—to (re)discover your own soul love.
Editor: Dana Gornall