Meditation poem series: #2

I was inspired to start a meditation poem series, which was partly motivated by my desire to recommit to a regular sitting meditation practice. These poems are written shortly after I’ve sat on my cushion.

I brought my meditation cushion to NC to my parents’ house. My hope is to meditate everyday for 90 days, and hopefully those 90 days will help me return to a daily practice moving forward. My sitting practice has been much more sporadic. I used to incorporate a regular daily sitting practice of zazen and centering prayer.

Meditation Poem #2
living half asleep
sitting to be awake
heart wide open

A Letter about Real Strength 

(The World According to Mister Rogers: important Things to Remember)

Dear Friend,

I hope my words find you at a time, where it may encourage you to be more at home within yourself. You wrote to me that you have been struggling with loneliness, and you shared how you thought being overwhelmed by an emotion was a sign of weakness.

I relate to your sentiments, and for a long time I also thought feeling deeply was a sign of weakness.  I think this is especially of men, but true in some ways across gender. We are taught early on to value thinking, mental capacities, and rewarded for academic achievement.

 How better the world would be if we were encouraged navigate through emotions and taught emotional intelligence. It’s ok that sometimes you are overwhelmed with feelings, why helps me is to sit with my feelings and breathe deeply. I try to welcome it instead of resisting it. Sometimes I am hit with an overpowering negative feelings that lead me to anger, despair, and a case of f%<! this s*^!. In these cases, I try to breathe, pray to a power greater than me for help, and try to turn my thoughts to someone else.

A wise man once said “Real strength has to do with helping others.” In my experience, when I am honest about my own struggles and befriend my weaknesses, the more useful I am to God and others.  I know you are struggling with believing in a Higher Power, but you don’t need to be a theist to know that helping others through mutual vulnerability allows for amazing things to happen.  When our walls are down, we are able to meet heart to heart; we are no longer pretending to be strong, but allowing ourselves to be seen and known as we truly are.  

I know sometimes it feels scary. My suggestion to you is to breathe deeply, relax and take it easy. Wise people have repeatedly told me “this too shall pass.” Our feelings can overwhelm and sometimes be scary, but remember that you are not just your thoughts or even your feelings. I try on most days to judge myself on my actions instead of the crazy thoughts and feelings floating through me. Whether I feel good or bad, I always full deep sense of peace and purpose, when instead of focusing on myself and my life I reach out and help someone else.

May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be at peace. May you be free from suffering.
In the Light,

Your Friend and Fellow Traveller 

A Poem for Calm and Peace in the Midst of Chaos

“Inner Peace” (10w poem)

even in the midst of chaos

my heart is calm


Dear Friend,

I wish I could tell you that your   life will always calm and peaceful, but that would be a lie.  My own experience that the storms of life always comes, but if I ground myself with a strong spiritual foundation then I am more apt to navigate the chaos of life with more calm and ease.

One of my favorite writers and fellow former L’Arche member, Henri Nouwen wrote: 

“A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself us.”

I find the willingness to stay when things get very difficult challenging, my first instinct is to run. However, looking back, most of my growth has happened because I stayed and lived with change and kept my heart open even in the midst of chaos.

As a chaplain, I have been able to accompany people when their world falls apart. The calm and peace I maintain comes from my own trust in a loving Divine Presence. Quakers believe that there is that of God in everyone, and instead of just telling people about what we believe, we are encouraged to “let our lives speak.” I love silence both in community and alone, and I try to nurture my soul through centering prayer and meditation, because I can’t give away what I don’t have.

Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun and teacher, suggests that:

“The next time there’s no ground to stand on, don’t consider it an obstacle. Consider it a remarkable stroke of luck. We have no ground to stand on, and at the same time it could soften and inspire us. Finally, after all these years, we could grow up. As Trungpa Rinpoche once said, the best mantra is ‘OM–grow up–svaha.'”  ( from “Three Methods of Working with Chaos)

So don’t run, but embrace the obstacles and storms in your life and fully live into them. Sometimes the calm and peace finds you, even when everything is falling apart around you.

In the Light,

Your Friend Admist the Storm


Letters about Sadness

Self Portrait: the blues

Dear Friend,

I know you are lost in your sadness, and your heart is hurting right now. Everything in your bones is telling you that this pain you feel will never go away. I am here with you, and instead of telling you not to wallow in your pain I will simply let you know that you are not alone.

I too know what it’s like to have heartache, but I say that not to lessen your pain or even to say our pain is the same, because it’s not.  Each pain and ache is different, and as you travel down the depths of sadness I will be here waiting for you.  I pray that a loving God of your understanding travels with you and guide you safely to the world you are trying so hard to be in, even though it feels like you are sleep walking.

Time takes time, and please I hope you do not fight laughter and joy returning to your life, when you start awakening to life again.  I thought I would be numb forever, and somehow slowly my heart started remawakening to each day.  Sometimes I still cry, but I laugh a lot too. Don’t forget you are not alone, and I’ll be here waiting as you make the journey back home to your heart.

In the Light,

A fellow traveler 

a poem for those going through difficulty 

the sun

the sun 

glows warmly 

even in 

cold days 

shining hope

My own personal difficulty this year has been going through separation and divorce. I have been able to talk about it freely with some people in my circle, but not everyone I know.  My experience has been that life is not an either or, but a both and.  Even this year, I have been able experience wide spectrum of human feelings and emotions, some days I am sad and few moments later laughing and so grateful I can enjoy moments with my 2 year old daughter.

Slowly, but surely, I am experiencing fun again in my life. My divorce is in its final stages and I am just waiting for the judge to sign the paperwork.  It’s been a journey to let go and let God, even with this. I am embracing hope and trying not to live in resentments or fear.  Today, I am grateful to experience love and support from all around me, because I had the courage to be honest and ask for help when I needed.  Also, sharing my own journey and my difficulties has allowed others to share their struggles and how they have made it to the other side. I hope each of you keep trusting and walking through the dark, even when things seem so bleak. I am here to say that there’s hope. 

To My 9 Years old Self

Dear EunSung,

I know everything is new right now.  You and your family just moved from South Korea to Asheville, NC.  I know you feel a little bit overwhelmed, and everything is new.  Remember to not take things personally, when well meaning folks talk down to you because you have a foreign name.  Be patient with your teachers when they stick you in a closet with a Mircofiche machine half the time at school, instead of letting you just be immersed with the other kids.  You and your family moved to an area at a time when ESL did not exist.

More than anything, little EunSung, be patient with yourself.  I know you’re a very sensitive child, and it will be hard for you to find ways to express yourself.  Be patient with your mom, dad and brother; it will be stressful to all of you as you adjust to a new culture and a new language.

And the most important of all, there’s a God out there that you’ve not experienced yet that loves you for you.  A God that does not judge you, even when human beings fail to live up to the standards of this love.  God loves you, even when white rural churches in NC could not totally accept and love you and your family.  Don’t loose heart.  God loves you for all of you, even you being Korean immigrant in a strange place, and eventually your family will choose American names to assimilate due to fear of being singled out and made an other.

Your journey will be sad at times, but all of it precious in the eyes of your Higher Power.  All of your pains and joys will eventually be used to serve God and help others.  But for now, you’re only 9.  Enjoy each day and have fun.


Your Jaded Older Self


PS–Your beloved Cubs win the World Series in 2016.  You fell in love with the Cubs when you watched them play at Wrigley Field on WGN, as a immigrant boy in the States trying to fit in.  What’s more American than baseball?  The Cubs had you by the 7th inning stretch, when Harry Carray sang “Take me Out to the Ballgame.”  Enjoy all of it little EunSung.


Evagrius Ponticus, an influential desert monastic, writes that we should “seek out places that are free from distraction, and solitary.  Do not be afraid of the noises you may hear. Even if you should see some demonic fantasy, do not be terrified or flee frm the training ground so apt for your progress.  Endure fearlessly, and you will see the great things of God, His help His care, and all the assurances of salvation” (V1:35, Teachings on Asceticism and Stillness in the Solitary Life).

I am not a monk that lives out in the desert. I live in the 21st century as an urban dad. I work as a chaplain to pay my bills and child support, and spend time with my 2 year old daughter.

However, I do identify with Evagrius’ words. My separation and upcoming divorce in a month has been a wilderness experience of my heart. I struggle to return to the inner cell of my heart to rest in the deep silence of peace and serenity from my Higher Power, or what Quakers call Divine Presence.

I have struggleded not loose myself in fantasy and anxiety of the future or wallow in what could have been different in my past. Grief is hard and “enduring fearlessly” as Evagrius suggests has been diffcult. But I have been doing the best I can to let go and let God, and trusting in a hope I do not understand or believe at some moments.  All I can do sometimes is take a tiny step forward, and for now it’s enough.

I am not sure what great things I’ll see, but so far it’s enough to see our daughter happy and growing up in two loving households.