By Sister Thuc Nghiem I was brought back to my Father dying today, to something about it I had not thought of in awhile -- how he had pneumonia and it was very difficult for him to breathe and the moment he died his face suddenly became very calm, with the utmost dignity and peace. It was an expression that I knew very well and it brought me much happiness.
I have been remembering lately my Father when he came home from work. He would drive up our driveway, get slowly out of the car and slowly begin walking up to the house. When he was just out of Annapolis, stationed on his first ship, he got polio, one of the first cases in New England. Although he recovered, he could not run, and always walked slowly. As he walked to our house he would often see my open window on the second story of our house and he would always call out, "Susan, come out and play!" in a special gentle, playful voice. I don't remember how many times I did go out. As I got to be a teenager, even if his play seemed annoyingly childish, it never ceased to make me smile. It has remained a vivid, poignant sign of my Father's love for me -- that after a busy day of being a lawyer he would let his work go, and day after day, reach out playfully to his youngest daughter.
Now as I sit day after day in the morning outside the Green Mt. Dharma Center watching the hay grasses grow and bend, I can play with my Father wonderfully as he teaches me and the gentle earth teaches me and my Teacher teaches me as well -the non-fear of dying, to feel the playfulness and the beauty of all that is around us and in us, that all these things come together and flow apart over and over -- to play. One of the things I have learned from sitting outside every morning watching the earth and sky is that I don't have anything to be afraid of with socalled dying. Remembering my Father 's calm face and his sweet wish to play brought him back to me newly born in a lotus flower of no-birth and no-death.
Sister Thue Nghiem (Sister Susan) is a nun at Green Mountain Dharma Center in Vermont.