“Call Me by My True Names” by Thich Nhat Hanh

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Call Me by My True Names

Do not say that I’ll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to
Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea
pirate,
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and
loving.

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
hands,
and I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to, my
people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.
My pain if like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

— Thich Nhat Hanh

 

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About John Halstead

John is a native of the southern Laurentian bioregion, where he practices an idiosyncratic form of Naturalistic Paganism. Since 2011, John has been writing about Paganism, Unitarianism, and life at AllergicPagan.com. He has written for numerous other online platforms, including The Huffington Post, Patheos, GodsandRadicals.org, Witches & Pagans, and GodisChange.org. John is the Editor-at-Large at HumanisticPaganism.com where he writes a regular column called “The Naturalistic Pagan Toolbox.” He also edited the anthology, Godless Paganism: Voices of Non-Theistic Pagans (2016). John was the principal facilitator of “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment” (ecopagan.com). John strives to live up to the challenge posed by the Pagan Statement through his writing and activism. He is one of the founders of 350 Indiana-Calumet and has participated in direct action against the fossil fuel industry. John is also a Shaper of the Earthseed community. View all posts by John Halstead

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