Without mud, there can be no lilies.

“Everyone knows we need to have mud for lotuses to grow.
The mud doesn’t smell so good, but the lotus flower smells very good.
If you don’t have mud, the lotus won’t manifest. You can’t grow lotus flowers on marble.
Without mud, there can be no lotus.”
― Thich Nhat HanhNo Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering

She arose in the morning,
To find a sweet apple for her beloved
In the garden’s new light

Waling along the garden path
She smelled love in the roses
Heard the birds sing delight

Near the lily pond,
she saw an apple tree
with bright red apples,

She climbed for the apple
 Dangling on a branch over the water
Stretching, reaching, higher and higher
And then, just as she plucked the apple
The branch cracked

She fell
       Into the water
          Into the mud
Splashing, thrashing and floundering
Sinking deeper into the mud
The mud covered her eyes
Blackened her dress
She felt dirty,
like no one would want to be near the stench
Exhausted from her thrashing
   She paused
      Looked around
She saw The White Lotus
   Rising toward the sun
     Calmly resting on floating leaves
       Roots anchored deep in the mud

And she laughed
  To hear the Lotus sing:

“No mud, no Lotus”
“No compost, no flowers”
“No darkness, no light”
“No low, no high”
“Sometimes we fall
    when we reach beyond our grasp”

Mud feeds the lotus
Allows growth toward the light
Heartache feeds compassion
Sadness becomes delight

* **  *** ***** *** ** *

Billions of years ago,
Life faced disaster
The newly emerged photosynthesis created toxic waste: oxygen
Oxygen was deadly to life unprepared
Oxygen threatened all life
Generous genes shared their wisdom
A new way created
to turn Oxygen from toxin to fuel

Challenges become stepping stones
Problems become puzzles
Obstacles become opportunities
   Toxins become fuels
    Lemons become lemonade
     Mud becomes the Lotus
      Sadness becomes awareness
Awareness becomes joy

We have not fallen from grace.   We are not yet fully risen toward grace.

We began in the garden.  Sometimes, when reaching for gifts for our loved ones, we fall. In following our aspirations, we lose our bearing.  Sometimes in our striving, we fall and land in the mud.  We can resent the mud, or embrace it’s power:  it feeds trees, lotus blossoms and the beauty of our growing souls.

Falling from grace is an illusion.  The reality is that we are graced every moment with love and light. Occasionally, setbacks distract us from being aware of the awesome gift of life.  Falling into the water baptizes us into the mystery of life.  Covered with mud represents the universal experience of loss and death, two essential ingredients for life.   Death and decay are not only inevitable, but they are necessary for new life that grows ever more beautifully toward the sun.


“Without suffering, there’s no happiness. So we shouldn’t discriminate against the mud.
We have to learn how to embrace and cradle our own suffering and the suffering of the world, with a lot of tenderness.”
Thich Nhat HanhNo Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering