Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet
Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet. I almost chuckle at the thought. How does one kiss the earth with their feet? If anyone could do it, it would certainly be the gentle monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. It is his very way of life. Me on the other hand, I fear I pound the earth, lumbering heavy-footed with my humanity. And yet my spirit craves a lightness of being.
Thich Nhat Hanh was born on October 11, 1926 in Vietnam. He was exiled from his country for thirty-nine years because of his passionate pleas for peace during the Vietnam War. He studied at Princeton University, has written over 100 books and founded the Plum Village monastery in the South of France. He is best known for his practice of mindful meditation. Recently, he led a walking meditation through the streets of New York City during rush hour proving inner peace is possible even in the midst of chaos. I have read several of his books on prayer and meditation and cannot wait to read his very well-known book, Living Buddha, Living Christ this summer. They say that a mysterious peace washes over your entire body and spirit when in his presence.
I confess that I struggle with both prayer and meditation in my own spiritual life. I fear I am more a spinning top than kneeling monk. Thich Nhat Hanh believes it is possible that all of us, even the spinning tops, can experience the “Kingdom” here and now. The experience of touching the Kingdom is unique for every soul. It can be experienced as an encounter with God in nature, scripture, or prayer, or a moment where we inhabit our humanity with grace (“we kiss the earth with our feet”), or an experience of such immense peace, beauty, love and divine understanding deep in our souls that we actually breathe divine breaths. Thich says that once you have touched the Kingdom you no longer need power, control, desire the material, or fear death.
I find in my own spiritual life, I often flirt with God but struggle with surrendering in total union. I call it “flirting with the Beloved.” Thich is a huge believer in the practice of mindfulness to bring us to that holy place our souls desire. It is a practice, even an art, of living fully into every single breath. It requires us to surrender all our “human hang-ups.” We must let go of our pasts(all the hurts, regrets, and resentments) and step away if only for a breath from our fears of the future, and just live in that place between the inhale and the exhale. It takes some help to get to that place. Recently, I have tried this meditation in my attempt to touch the Kingdom.
You say three times: I have arrived. I have arrived. I have arrived.
Then you say three times: I am home. I am home. I’m home.
Home is finding oneself in the embrace of God, the great I am, the Beloved, Love Incarnate.
Every single one of us has a place deep within us, a sacred space of peace that is unshakable despite what this world throws at us. The problem is we haven’t the courage or the humility to trust in that place, trust in God. When we do stop, close our eyes, and whisper the mantra, I have arrived. I have arrived. I have arrived. I am home. I am home. I am home, we realize our lives are not as heavy and fragile as we once thought. We can live in the world but not of it, maybe even kiss the earth with our feet. We begin to live more gracefully into our humanity and understand our holy purpose on this planet.
Live in Hope,