Peaceful at sunset, the river Seine winds through the heart of Paris. Still and quiet it calls out to us.

I fidget at my desk, glad to receive emails from my friends. They are safe and well. They are coping and moving away from fear:

“The best thing for me to do was to take a very long walk through the streets of my beloved Paris…..The people in the streets were calm and friendly…….I wish you were all here yesterday to see these Parisians taking advantage of the beautiful day, eating icecreams, standing in line to go to the movies and lighting candles where the attacks took place. The terraces were packed with people. Naturally, we have grief in our hearts but not on our faces. I love the Parisians for this capacity to turn their attention to what is ‘beau & bon’ (beautiful and good)….” Virginia Dae, Paris Insight

Virginia’s message is helpful this gray morning in Texas where our governor has just announced that Texas will not accept any Syrian refugees. Many of my friends, neighbors, and fellow Texans agree with this decision; yet, I struggle.

In Paris, my friend and mentor, Sarah, emerges from the aftermath with her strength intact, her heart still open:

“……peace? sharing? kindness? hate? revenge? too many guns that blow people to smithereens…? it is very quiet outside….People watching their tvs, listening to the news on the radio – wanting to know what and how they will start their day…I am watching the last golden leaves fall off the trees in the little public park in front of my window. The four green benches usually well sat on are empty for the moment.….we have had a wonderfully colourful autumn – we are the lucky ones….”

Sarah Petronio, Master Tap Artist

Both Virginia and Sarah have found a way to steady their minds and their hearts, a feat I find most remarkable given what they have experienced these past few days.

This week my prayer remains simple: I pray for mindfulness in my daily life. I ask that as an American, I recognize there is little I can do except live an exemplary life. I pray that my mind and heart be free from the angry chatter that tempts me, that I not rush in judgment or act in fear.

With each step I take, I hope to embody the sage advice of Thich Nhat Hanh, one of our greatest living teachers:

“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, a gentle wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.”

May I always remember……with each step a gentle wind blows.