Let Us Pray for Darkness O Sparkling Stars
~ by Thich Naht Hanh
The boat is gone —
I remain on the shore
counting the footprints left on the sand.
A group of anxious men and women are here
to see the boat off
and to pray for the man who is going.
“May the sea be calm and the sky quiet,” they whisper.
O wind, carry their prayer
and let the ocean give him the storms they need.
come here by my side
and watch the boat’s pilot,
who is contemplating sky and cloud,
smile calmly at waves and ocean,
not praying for the calmness of ocean and sky
but for two arms and one heart.
come close by my side.
Give up your haughty laugh.
Thanks to you, he will reach greatness.
Without you, he would have remained only he, forever.
Let us pray that the darkness becomes deeper,
O innumerable, twinkling stars!
At sunrise we will be able to see
sparkling streams of morning light
flowing down from the top of the mountain.
Night and day are opposite,
but night and day engender each other.
O innocent child,
are you an exiled spirit newly set down
into this worn world?
Do not look at me that way,
with your wrinkled forehead.
You are still a stranger here.
Smile in the fragrance
of this pink dawn.
Smile, young one.
Moon, cloud, and wind are all calm,
peaceful, harming nothing.
Smile, little child, as I did in early innocence,
knowing nothing, discerning nothing.
Close your ears to my words.
Remain amazed and in wonder as you are.
Return to the place you came from.
If, one day, you need me,
and I should be absent,
please listen deeply to the murmur of a spring
or the thunder of a cascade.
Contemplate the yellow chrysanthemums,
the violet bamboo,
the white cloud,
or the clear, peaceful moon.
All of them tell the same story
I tell the singing birds today.
This marvelous song you hear this morning,
rises from uncounted suffering lives.
These lotus flowers that calmly perfume the air
reach upward from the muddy pond,
I am here, little child,
waiting for you.