A Pebble For Your Pocket

One recent weekend morning Grace, Whit and I were puttering at home (I know!  What else is new!?).  I was doing laundry and they were in Grace’s room, next to mine, and they started to bicker. Suddenly, without a plan, I called, “Hey, guys!  Let’s get in my bed and read.”  Why not get into bed at 10:30 in the morning?  My bed is, after all, a refuge for both of them and, in truth, for me.

To my surprise, Grace and Whit agreed.  I thought at first we were going to read Harry Potter and then, out of blue, I noticed the stack of library books on the edge of my bureau.  A Pebble For Your Pocket, a book of “mindful stories for children and grown-ups,” by Thich Nhat Hahn, was sitting on top.  Ah, thank you, universe, I thought, grabbing the paperback before clambering into the middle of my bed between Grace and Whit.

As I opened the book I hesitated.  I thought, for a moment: I wonder if they are going to go for this.  Well, one way to find out, I thought as I cleared my throat and opened to the first story, called “Who is the Buddha?”  Just as it had in the library, a gossamer veil of quiet descended on the room.  It seemed as though all of our breathing slowed down.  I felt as though something brushed past me in the dark, touching me so barely I might have imagined it.  The last time I felt this sensation was in May, in the ER with Grace, and I described it thus: “I felt the feathers of holiness brush my cheek, the sensation of something sacred descending into the room, as undeniable as it was fleeting.  There have been a few moments like this in my life – more than a handful, but fewer than I’d like – when I am conscious of the way divinity weaves its way into our ordinary days.  This was one.”

I think that feeling is grace.

We read two stories and put the book away and the current of our day took us all with it.  It wasn’t until the next morning, when Grace and Whit were sitting at the kitchen table working on their classroom Valentine’s, that either of them mentioned Thich Nhat Hahn.

“Mum?”  Grace was looking down, concentrating on the glitter she was shaking onto a card.  “Can we read more of those pebble stories?”  I run upstairs to get the dogeared library book, and then, sitting between them on our battered wooden kitchen chairs, read several more stories.  As I read I remembered the first time I read Thich Nhat Hahn.  Peace is Every Step was an important book for me in college, a reminder of what mattered, what I wanted, to keep breathing, to live here.  As you can tell, I’m still working at this, still learning the same lesson, and I keep flubbing it.  Over and over again.  But what is there to do but to keep my eyes open, to take a deep breath, to love this life of mine, in all its flawed, real, glittering beauty?

The hermit is inside of you.  In fact, all the wonderful things that you are looking for – happiness, peace, and joy – can be found inside of you.  You do not need to look anywhere else. – Thich Nhat Hahn, A Pebble For Your Pocket

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  1. Posted February 18, 2013 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    Shivers on my spine and raised hair on my forearms. That was beautiful. Thankful for your 10:30 book reading session!

  2. Posted February 18, 2013 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    I find so often that reading aloud quiets the bickering in a magical way. And this book sounds like a must read.

  3. Elizabeth
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    I also strive to live in the moment and find peace and positive energy with my kids every day. I call it “the depth of the moment.” As busy parents, it’s easy to find ourselves living “the length of the moment” – just going from 1:00-2:00 hustling and bustling. But, we need to strive to live the DEPTH of this time – find the joy, the peace, the excitement, of each moment. Thank you for this book suggestion, I’ve never thought about looking for these types of books for my kids. I now have a new mission at the bookstore! Love your blog. You daily bring peace to my life.

    admin Reply:

    Your thoughtful comment reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, which I wonder if you know?

    “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.”
    ― Diane Ackerman

    Thank you so much for your kind words about my blog. It makes me so happy to hear that!

  4. Posted February 18, 2013 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Great story, Lindsey! And I can’t wait to check out that book.

  5. Posted February 18, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    One of my very favorite books on the planet – so inspiring that you read it to the kids, and yes, it seems that is grace. All of it.

    He is going to be in upstate New York at the end of August…


    admin Reply:

    Oh, I would love to meet him!!

  6. Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    What a wonderful gift you give your children…and it doesn’t surprise me one bit that not only do they want to read more, but that they grasp it. Children understand so much more than we give them credit for. Teaching them that they have everything they need right inside them is such a powerful message.

    admin Reply:

    Yes, it is – I think maybe it’s the only message I really care about teaching them, at the end of the day. It’s a hard one though, especially since I am still very much learning it myself. xox

  7. Posted February 18, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Thank you. I am ordering this book!

    admin Reply:

    Let me know what you think. I think it’ll be right up your alley! xo

  8. Posted February 18, 2013 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Beautiful! Reading has already become a part of our little family’s life — but the books are more “Are you a Cow?” and “Happy Hippo Angry Duck.” I love story time but can’t wait until we can read some more complex fare (including Harry Potter!) xox

    admin Reply:

    It will be here before you know it! 🙂 xox

  9. Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    I think the thing I miss most about my children’s younger years is reading to them. I fought hard to hold onto it–I was determined that if Jim Trelease could read aloud to teenagers, I could, too!–but it’s something that’s fallen away.

    Just yesterday, I was thinking about the fact that I have fewer than 4 years left with my kids, and I was wondering what things I want to make sure I do with them before the years are gone. The wonderful thing is that I couldn’t really think of anything I haven’t done yet. And it wasn’t the trips to Europe or the special days that mean the most to me. It was the small things, like making cookies and snuggling in bed. And we have that, in spite of the fact that I, too, continually flub it. I think we don’t have to get it right all of the time. We just have to get it right at times. Then we have it. Yes, grace.

    admin Reply:

    This makes me smile. Yes to the flubbing. Yes to the messing up. But also yes to the grace. Thank you. xox

  10. Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Exactly this, “what is there to do but to keep my eyes open, to take a deep breath, to love this life of mine, in all its flawed, real, glittering beauty?” It’s all there is, the only thing I can think of that would matter, the only thing I can manage.

    admin Reply:

    It’s all I can manage, either, and on many days I have to explicitly remind myself to do even that. xox

  11. Posted February 18, 2013 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Oh, but the universe does reveal how spirits hum with shared light. Love this.

    admin Reply:

    Oh, but how that delights me! 🙂 xoxo

  12. Posted February 19, 2013 at 4:47 am | Permalink

    I love this post. Thich Nhat Hanh’s writing is beautiful in its simplicity, and yet so profound.

    Oh, I wish he would come out to Australia. I would love to hear him speak in person!

  13. Matt
    Posted February 19, 2013 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I love this post and cherish the days of reading to the kids.

  14. Posted February 19, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    This feeling I know – the feeling of grace. It doesn’t come often but more these days as I feel I’ve transversed the spiritual journey of a lifetime. The journey was simple and all mine, but I came through it and because of it recognize moments like this more often. I felt it last night as I climbed into bed to read myself and thought about my two boys (4 and 6) also curled up in their beds reading books. Simple moment, but laced with contentment. Funny how so much of that comes with reading for some of us, isn’t it?

  15. Posted February 20, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful.

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