By Lennis Lyon I n 1997, I asked my 23-year-old son, Tatian, if he would like to join me on my first visit to Plum Village. "Sure, I've never been to Europe," he replied. I explained we would have one night in Paris, but the rest of the two weeks would be at a Buddhist monastery. His greatest fear was having to get up at 5:00 a.m.
When it came time to leave for France in December, I had a bad flu, and couldn't fly. Tatian decided to go ahead. My bags were packed for a quick departure, but the unrelenting flu postponed my trip entirely. Meanwhile, Tatian called home with reports of his surprise at how good natured and humorous the monks were, how they let him sleep in (he never did meditate), and how for his first job a monk asked him to saw a fallen tree in half and pointed to the shed where he could find a saw. Being new at felling trees, Tatian chose a small saw, and was barely into the cut two days later. The monk laughed and recommended a larger saw.
Tatian was amazed at the trust the community had in his abilities, especially when he was asked to take charge of planning and preparing the evening meal for Upper Hamlet when the head cook was called away on a family emergency. When Tatian asked for the recipe, a monk motioned to the pantry, saying, "You can make whatever you want." Not quite up to this task, Tatian asked for and received help.
Tatian also spoke of Thich Nhat Hanh's meaningful talks, especially one on love.
I could not have been a happier sick person, knowing my son was experiencing firsthand the teachings and the monastic Sangha who have so deeply touched my life. Then, Tatian returned, moved 300 miles away, and nothing further was said about Buddhism.
In December, a year later, I asked the usual question, "What would you like for Christmas?" Tatian replied by naming clothes, CDs, electronic devices, and the Diamond Sutra. Wonderfully startled, I inquired as nonchalantly as possible, "How did you hear about the Diamond Sutra? "Thich Nhat Hanh gave a talk about it in Plum Village," he answered.
I am grateful that the seeds of mindfulness have been watered in my son and in myself.
Lennis Lyon practices with Pot Luck Sangha in Oakland, California.