Essay from prompt “going in the direction you cherish” by Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Han – 9/30/2007

“If he eats a little, sleeps a little and exercises a little every day, he will be OK.”  Those were the words that came over the phone on that day I frantically called our counselor because Wesley was sleeping too much and eating too little.  It was only a few weeks after the accident, and I feared he would take his own life.  Simple, basic advice for survival.  That was then.

            A good day now begins with a good night’s sleep, waking refreshed to the sound of Ryan’s “dang happy birds.”  Those birds remind me of the love and laughter Ryan brought to my life and also of the God-infused creation that surrounds me.  In fact, the very same birds that annoyed my 15-year-old son when they woke him from his sleep are an example of “going in the direction I cherish.” They practice self-care by eating just what their bodies need to carry them through their day. They take care of one another, working cooperatively to build their nests, feeding their families and sticking together. They sound a warning to all the other birds whenever they sense danger. And in the absence of danger, they perch their little birdie feet on a gently swaying limb of the River Birch tree and add their sweet song to the daily chorus. They share their gifts and sing songs of gratitude for the day, the food, the flock and the sheer joy of singing. Simple…yes. Basic…yes. Cherished…yes.  More than just survival, that is living as a “dang happy bird.”

~Kathy Shoaf


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