Category Archives: Relationships

Gathering at the Table

Originally posted Jan 26, 2013

Four Friends @ the Table -d nelson

Four Friends @ the Table ~d nelson

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood. -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On our path towards heart’s dream, journey’s value, at least, equals its terminus. These words came to me while sitting quietly the other day, reflecting on a couple of activities attended on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. With a mindful foundation based in joy, non-violence and equanimity, the past, present and future can offer me necessary insight for trying to do the right thing. Simultaneously, I can embrace beauty surrounding and supporting my existence, recognize that I and others have privileges, freedoms and opportunities previously unavailable, and realize that we must stay peacefully diligent to fulfill our highest potential, for liberty and justice for all. Zen multi-tasking.

Lincoln, the currently popular movie, is testament to our continued interest and ties to a troubled past. We’ve come a long way in the USA from legal slavery and overt “Jim Crow”, by recognizing injustice and passing equal rights legislation. African-Americans and other “minorities” are commonly neighbors, doctors, teachers, and professionals which I daily interact with now, and during my public health career. Women have more career opportunities, and not just in housework and child rearing. We even have a bi-racial President, starting his second term. But from a quiet place inside I honestly realize that this society is not close to being “post racial”, and that we all would benefit from restorative justice in our hearts, minds, as well as in our communities.

gathered & remembered on ancestor’s table

At their “Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade” presentation, Tom DeWolf and Sharon Morgan shared about their personal, and quite emotional journey towards racial reconciliation. For years they researched genealogies, visited public records, civic sites, graves and places where human beings were imprisoned, then bought and sold as property. Uncovering dark truths within our living, collective wounds. Guilt is the glue that holds together the walls and barriers to understanding, forgiveness and freedom. Healing in the knowing. Bringing light to darkness. Looking deeply we can see that people in involuntary servitude and slavery built & are the underpinnings of economies in the Western world. Their website offers further learning tools, .

Reading other’s inspiring words & blogs gives me hope. This blogosphere accumulates endless outpourings of care for self and each other. Expressions offered without regard to race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, or handicap. Our deepest desire for a happy, healthy “now” for all. For a future to be possible. Webster defines empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also: the capacity for this.

“I have a dream that little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” -Dr ML King. Although I was young, I remember seeing Dr. King and others marching for civil rights on TV. My grade school teacher was in tears telling the class that the 38-year-old Dr. King was shot and killed. Because of his actions and those of so many others we are all more free than before. Yet, with eyes and heart open we know that economic, health, and education disparities based on race live on this day. I see consequences of these disparities in newspapers and professional journal articles. We all suffer with fear, anger, confusion, illiteracy, or hunger in our house, or our neighbor’s. Violent crime rates are rising. Panic buying of assault weapons. Poverty causes crime. Hunger causes crime. The roots of poverty and despair related to past injustices call out for our collective heart’s intervention, using the wisdom of non-discrimination. This is compassionate meditation in action.

gathering before the earth

“You have the courage to do it [speak out] because you have compassion, because compassion is a powerful energy. With compassion you can die for other people, like the mother who can die for her child. You have the courage to say it because you are not afraid of losing anything, because you know that understanding and love is the foundation of happiness. But if you have fear of losing your status, your position, you will not have the courage to do it.” -Thich Nhat Hanh, from his book, “Fear”.

May I continue waking up recognizing the gift of each moment, while looking with the eyes of compassion on all beings. May you be well, and feel happy and safe, alone or with others. Together we make this moment wonderful, and thus create the potential for a wonderful future, free of discrimination.

ps: You’re welcome to enjoy my chant for feeling safe


Seeing Happiness, Again

Dwelling in the present moment, we can see so many beauties and wonders right before our eyes–a child’s smile, the sun rising, the autumn leaves ~Thich Nhat Hanh

flowers often seem nicer on the other side ~d nelson

flowers often seem nicer on the other side ~d nelson

“Are you blind?” I asked the young man sitting next to me in the park. I had offered empathetic listening as he explained at length how there’s nothing to do here and that’s why this town is boring. If only he could get a ride an hour to the nearest city there would be fun things to do so he wouldn’t be bored. He replied that he had two good eyes.

I told him of my moon watching meditation last night.
How the golden hues of sunset were still setting the hills ablaze
with a golden glow as this super full moon rose up behind them
in plain view for all to see.

Oranges, yellows, greens, browns whites,
blacks, blues, magentas, among others
in the shapes of rolling hills, oaks, pines, moon
clouds, lake, waves, rocks, geese, ducks.
Such an amazing display of colors and shapes.
A true miracle to behold
to let touch my heart through
perception & my eye’s consciousness.

Such a miracle to see, at all.
Offering more than enough conditions for me to be happy.

super moon

super moon

I shared with him about diabetic patients I used to care for.
How, over time, many lost their vision
due to the corrosive effects of too much glucose
running through eye’s blood vessels.
And how they became so sad and unhappy
when they could no longer see well, or at all.

I asked if there is anything he really likes to look at
and he told me how pretty his girlfriend is.
After a few more comments to each other
he went off to be with his special friend
where he was going to look at her with new eyes
and tell her how special she is to him.

I am happy that he decided to open his eyes
to beauty present before him
and let go of the idea of being bored.

(originally posted July 12, 2014)

Parable of a Particular Peacock

Particular Peacock ~d nelson

Particular Peacock ~d nelson

As long as can be remembered
from east stretching west,
Peacock’s rainbow presence
has auspiciously symbolized beauty
as well as joy, grace, & love.


There was hopeful exuberance
when GoldenBoy was born.
His mother’s aspiration to transmit
loving-kindness & compassion to him
was fulfilled for only a year until
her grave illness & untimely death.


In the sad confusion that followed,
GoldenBoy was abducted & taken
to dark, distant relatives
residing way down below.
Kept away from others,
he was placed before a mirror
that beckoned him not to turn
away from his glorious handsomeness.
“Keep looking, as you are the most
beautiful, important boy of all.”


Aggressively schooled in Objectivism-based lessons;
that selfishness & taking from others
while both dominating & humiliating them
is morally acceptable & the only rational good.
Believing that rules apply only to others
teen GoldenBoy craved all attention & power.


After years of searching high & low,
guided by ancestors up in heavenly abodes
his loving relatives dared enter the netherworld to find
& reclaim GoldenBoy for realizing his mother’s dream
of him being embrace by light & love.
Recognizing his learned self-centered, confrontational, ungrateful demeanor
as an expression of unremitting loneliness & protracted pain
his loved ones placed him in the care of wise Peacock Master.
He was given a mirror that only reflected
back into his own heart.


For the rest of GoldenBoy’s life he apprenticed at a shelter
taking care of others, listening with empathy to their stories
of happiness, despair, poverty, immigration, trauma, abuse & loss;
feeding them, dressing their wounds,
helping some get back upon their feet,
burying broken bodies of the fallen.


Shortly before his own passing,
Elders deemed GoldenBoy deserving
to dance in a rhythmic way
at the onset of shadowy clouds,
outspreading his tail
as esteemed peacocks always have,
bringing beauty & hope to those in need
beholding a living-colored rainbow
alighting a way for all in darkness.

Many things can be taken from us, but no one can ever steal our determination or our freedom.
No one can ever steal our practice. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Unlimited Free Shipping: Mindful Remembrance Drops


drops of remembrance ~d nelson

A gift that keeps giving begins with a bell’s sound
awakening drops of yearning to be redeemed, actualized.
Breathe In, aware of what is going on within.
Breathe Out, aware of what is going on without.
Each remembrance, a drop of compassionate nectar.

persimmon drops

persimmon drops

With the Energy of Mindfulness
conditions of happiness reveal themselves.
Like drops of golden sunshine through fog.
There is no need to fear any emotion
knowing that unpleasant feelings can be held,
comforted & patiently transformed into vibrant flowers.

drops of remembrance 3~d nelson

drops of remembrance 3~d nelson

Feeling better I hear seasonal jingle, jingles.
So how can I mindfully share my time & energy being of service
to others in need during this chilly holiday time?
Volunteering, perhaps to help older relatives with house/yard work.
They may need help with laundry or something-like plumbing
where I could assist after a little guidance from a YouTube video.
They may push-away at first, but I’ll keep smiling with heart open.

helping hands ~d nelson

helping hands ~d nelson

Remembering that everyone needs help, comfort of some kind,
I could, even, give this relief to neighbors I don’t know.
There are elders, or less-abled needing help replacing the batteries
on home smoke and CO2 alarms, or too-high light bulbs.
There is a gift giving program that needs volunteer
present wrappers that will even appreciate a bad wrapper, like me.
Perhaps I can help prepare & serve food or bring guitar,
voice & cheerful song to the senior center.
And the birdies outside would be most grateful
for some seeds and water that’s not frozen.

persimmon drops 3

persimmon drops 3

Mindfulness exposing present moments.
With breathing, smiling, calming & some food
most all of my needs are met. What happiness!
Mindfulness imparts remembrance.
Each breath, a bell of mindfulness, a drop of compassion.
Remembrance nurturing gratitude for conditions
which have given us life, talents, success’ and failures.
This energy can bring about a wisdom of non-discrimination.
Touching personal sufferings &
my ancestor’s great suffering through hard times
& even, barely surviving atrocities,
I must now have a moment of silence
remembering those who are victims, at this moment;
in Syria, Africa, Afghanistan, and many other locations.
Breathing in, cultivating peace in myself.
Breathing out, sending out drops of peace
& love for my neighbors and for the world.

drops of remembrance 2~d nelson

drops of remembrance 2~d nelson

Peace Begins With Your Lovely Smile!

Even in the mud and scum of things, something always, always sings.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

calligraphy by Thich Nhat Hanh

calligraphy by Thich Nhat Hanh

As a veteran I took a walk
in nature for Veteran’s Day.
There I heard the song
of wind through redwoods
and remaining Scrub Jays.

sun shines down on everything ~d nelson

sun shines down on everything ~d nelson

Contemplating words from children over the past few days
who have experienced racist vandalism and attacks at their schools.
I feel as if the “Land of the Free” may soon no longer be free, says one.
Why is it so OK now for adults & kids to act so uncivil, asks another.
A friend’s 13-year-old daughter said “Hate won.”
Children & adults wearing safety pins as a symbol of solidarity
with victims of racist, religious or homophobic abuse.

burned renewal

burned renewal

IMHO, besides ignorance & hate, another truth
is voters rejected big money in politics
& the entrenched power structure those monies buy.
I believe in time leaders will be elected that embody wisdom & compassion,
and allow all those who now feel powerless and disenfranchised,
and who have been left out of our politics and left behind in our economy.

contemplative redwood forest ~d nelson

contemplative redwood forest ~d nelson

Among ancient trees I hear calm whispers,
breath, it will be OK. Yes, dear one, we ask that you do it!
Feel yourself present for the fragile glory of this moment.
We’ve weathered a millennia of seasons, survived fire,
floods, droughts & clear cuts. With patience we endure.
How long shall you endure?

my lucky charm? ~d nelson

my lucky charm? ~d nelson

As luck would have it. Seeing the sun
shine down on the trees, warming,
life-giving, without discrimination
inspired me to cultivate an
inner smile that I could offer to others like rain,
or sunshine, without discrimination.

calligraphy by Thich Nhat Hanh

calligraphy by Thich Nhat Hanh

Sending a smile & a real hug
to all, as it seems all
including me,
are now in real need.

Judge Me, Yes Please


sunflowers ~d nelson

Offering true
presence for you,
standing straight
stem to petals.



With your true presence’ glance
we are not two,
there is no other,
in this fresh
new moment.



Experiencing this
moment together
is the miracle.
Why want more?

sunflowers in plum village

sunflowers in plum village, france ~d nelson

I’ve heard of those
clever human minds,
able to reach glorious
brilliance & insight.



Yet, also darkly caught
in endless
running towards and/or away
from desires & fears.
Thinking, judging, thinking
is what it does, yes?
Seems an inconceivable busyness
demanding all time & attention.



I’ll understand if you don’t have
time for me now, maybe never.
Summer passes quickly
into autumn’s glory days.
Spring’s renewal is both
alluring & uncertain.



Whether you say “we’re beautiful”
or that we remind your heart of
an unfulfilled wedding vow
or that we will look better
delivered as a bundle
of dead sunflowers,
we will still be unconditionally
present for you, now.


sunflowers-8 ~d nelson

How would you deal with Osama bin Laden?, Anne Simpkinson asked Thich Nhat Hanh in 2002. “The first thing I would do is listen. I would try to understand why he had acted in that cruel way. I would try to understand all of the sufferings that had led him to violence. . . . I would need several friends with me, who are strong in the practice of deep listening, listening without reacting, without judging and blaming. In this way, an atmosphere of support would be created for this person and those connected so that they could share completely, trust that they are really being heard.”

Heart of the World

“In mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake.
Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.” ~ Thích Nhất Hạnh
above the water

above the water

So this sister says to me,
with her heart heavy and eyes sad,
that the big company
plans to drill holes
and inject toxic chemicals
at super high pressure into the ground
corrupting the water supply
& fracturing underground rock
while extracting natural gas.

So we sat together
the drought
here in earthquake country.
Our collective insight is that water
is too sacred to poison
any more.
Helping protect the children
of the future
must be done, now.

a redwood

a redwood ~ d nelson

So I sat down and wrote this song entitled “heart of the world”. The lyrics and recording is below

May we live in harmony with the world so that a future is possible
It’s simple seeing myself
connected to everything else, yes it is
letting my eyes be windows, windows to the heart
heart of the world beating inside me

It’s simple to openly care
protecting life-giving water and air, yes it is
letting my eyes be windows, windows to the heart,
heart of the world beating inside me

It’s simple living with grace
preserving surroundings for all children to embrace, yes it is

the forests and mountains, rivers and seas
shout out show us the love!

It’s simple to love animals & birds
to be truly present, to touch the earth, yes it is
letting my eyes be windows, windows to the heart
heart of the world beating inside me

May we live in harmony with the world so that a future is possible!

Hope you like it!

I’ll be on a retreat in nature, in trees and along a creek.
Will share my experience with blogging friends when I return on-line.