Light shines here from a tip of the candle

‘Veterans are the light at the tip of the candle,’ illuminating the way for the whole nation.

If veterans can achieve awareness, transformation, understanding, and peace, they can share with the rest of society the realities of war.

And they can teach us how to make peace with ourselves and each other, so we never have to use violence to resolve conflicts again.

Thich Nhat Hanh

14 comments on “Light shines here from a tip of the candle

  1. contoveros says:

    “Ain’t gonna study war no more . . .”

    That was the song veterans and family members of vets sang at the retreat with Thích Nhất Hạnh at Blue Cliff Monastery, upstate New York. We formed a group which included the daughter of General William C. Westmoreland, once commander of the army during the Vietnam War.

    Thầy held a special place for veterans from the United States who faced war and believed we could help others see the futility of all wars!



    I’m gonna lay down my burden, down by the riverside,
    Down by the riverside, down by the riverside
    I’m gonna lay down my burden, down by the riverside,
    I’m gonna study war no more

    I ain’t a gonna study war no more, I ain’t a gonna study war no more
    I ain’t a gonna study war no more, I ain’t a gonna study war no more
    I ain’t a gonna study war no more, I ain’t a gonna study war no more


  2. Someday, we’ll have to get Contoveros to write a short blog post about the retreat he attended with Thich Nhat Hahn, and how he took part in a walking meditation when the modest monk rested and looked directly into Michael J’s eyes and comforted his soul.

    “God is available to us 24 hours a day,” the Buddhist monk from Vietnam told the gathering of some thousand people at Blue Cliff Monastery in up state New York.

    “How often are we available to god?”


  3. octobia says:

    Hey Michael J, I appreciate your blogs more than I can say.

    My son is a recent vet and composed a youtube video to honor the humanity of our soldiers. I thought you might find it moving:

    Take Care,


    • Octobia,

      Beautiful. Dog tags, the shell casing and the Airborne symbol hit me. So did the coffin being carried by members of all branches of the services in their dress uniforms. I had dress blues. (Still do, but will never get back to the size to ever wear ’em again!)

      Thank you. Thanks to your son also,

      michael j


  4. Check this out, the video will make you “suck it up”.

    Everything on my site is downloadable

    The message is important, not the messenger.



  5. Phil says:

    Beautiful. It is both a treasure and a responsibility.




  6. Walter Gremillion says:

    I have a poem somewhere to the effect;
    it wasn’t the lawyer who gave you justice, it was the soldier
    it wasn’t the politician who gave you democracy, it was the soldier
    etc. I’ll find it and return
    thanks for waiting, here it is

    “It was the soldier, that gave you freedom of the press not the reporter

    It was the soldier, not the poet that gave you freedom of expression

    It was the soldier that gave you freedom of speech, not the campus organizer

    It is the soldier that salutes the flag It is the soldier that serves under the flag

    And it is the soldier whose coffin is draped by the flag

    So that others may have the right to bum the flag.”


    • contoveros says:


      This soldier bows in salute to such heartfelt words.

      He also “requsitioned” the poetry, and published it in a separate post at his humble blog.

      Hope you don’t mind. It means a lot to me.

      michael j


      • contoveros says:

        Walt passed on less than a year after providing me his poem above.

        I like to think his consciousness is soldiering on in another part of the cosmos, helping the rest of us to achieve enlightenment.

        Thank you, brother.

        michael j


  7. Katharine says:

    Wounded Healers often make the best ministers, because they’ve “been there” and have come through it, turning the wounding into compassion and blessing.


    • Katharine,

      I’m thinking, I’m thinking.

      My sister-in-law just got a speeding ticket. Doing 62 in a 35 mph zone.

      She told me just after I was plea-bargaining my own moving violation to avoid points for doing 54 in a 25 mph zone.

      One would expect this of me, a war veteran with PTSD.

      But Michele? She’s another one of those bonifide ministers, a Methodist type, pastor of her own church in Germantown, PA, the First United Methodist.

      Nice to know that law infractions pose no bar from serving humanity as a member of the clergy.

      There may be hope for somebody I know after all.

      michael j


  8. scot says:

    Darkness is only an absence of light
    The night does not dispell the light
    But the coming of a new dawn
    Does signify the end of a long cold night
    As surley as ignorance is an absence of knowledge
    Love is an absence of hate



    • contoveros says:

      “. . . [I]gnorance is the absence of knowledge,”

      “Love is the absence of hate.”

      Jason Scott,

      Reminds me of something that impressed me so much, I wrote it down, perhaps saving it only to share with you right now:

      Rabi’a: My love for God, leaves me no time left in which to hate the Devil.

      michael j


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