Shinnen

Copyright Kanzensakura All Rights Reserved; Used with permissiion

Copyright Kanzensakura All Rights Reserved; Used with permissiion

Shinnen (the New Year) arrived with death this year.  Our beloved Uncle had passed away from a debilitating illness.  All of us suffered as we watched him slowly deteriorate.  For years he had been the rock and center of our tight-knit family as we immigrated to America from our homeland of Japan.  He welcomed and supported each member as they made the passage.

His wake took place at our family’s Buddhist temple. We were heartened to see so many attend and as the rinpoche lit the incense and recited sutras, the visitors filed by the casket.  Afterwards, his body was cremated and his ashes collected in an urn that would be placed at the family gravesite where a shallow space was reserved for this purpose.  As loved ones gathered for the simple ceremony a few days later, we noticed the quince tree that shaded the site had bloomed.  The day before an unexpected snowfall had filled its branches with ice and coated its early, fragile blossoms.  As I lingered under the tree, I pictured Uncle happy and dancing at the Isle of the Blessed.

pale pink quince blossoms
heralds in spring and life lost
beginnings–endings

Join us as at dVerse Poets as Toni presents us with our first Haibun Monday of 2016:  http://dversepoets.com/2016/01/11/haibun-monday-5/

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47 Comments

  1. Suzanne

     /  January 11, 2016

    This is so moving. What a wonderful insight into another way of saying goodbye to the departed. There is such a depth of feeling in your haibun but stated so simply, so purely. The haiku at the end is wonderful.

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  2. What a beautiful thought amidst the sorrow and sadness of the passing of loved one ~ May it be a wonderful beginning for his soul ~ I specially love this line:

    As I lingered under the tree, I pictured Uncle happy and dancing at the Isle of the Blessed.

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  3. Glenn Buttkus

     /  January 11, 2016

    Incredible sense of time & place; rings with authenticity, real or imagined. Your haiku is very strong, classic, really. Quite a splendid response to the snow flower image; really enjoyed it.

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    • Thank you, Glenn. Like you with your lessons, I do a little research sometimes to make my writing authentic. But this is an imagined time and place, inspired by the photo. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

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  4. Oh how this brought tears to my eyes – tears at such beauty and understanding of another culture and love for the uncle. I wish this had a lovelovelovelove button. As usual, you amaze me with your sensitivity and artistic ability. It made me think of a long departed friend and his passing and cremation and what I would wish for myself when that time comes. This is an incredible and yes, splendid piece of writing. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Oh, Toni, what a sweet, tender response. I’m grateful that I brought your photo justice with my story. You’re welcome.

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      Reply
  5. What a touching story, Gayle. I don’t know if this is true or not, but it definitely sounds like it is. The family love and warmth is so very evident…….and the haiku at the end blew me away!

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  6. My sympathy in your family’s loss…and i admire the beautiful haiku too.

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  7. SMiLes.. reminds me of A
    non-fictional story of
    after my Grandmother’s
    funeral on a grey and
    rainy day…
    A purple
    flower
    rises
    beyond a pebble..

    My Uncle
    says
    mom still cares..:)

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    Reply
  8. In my end is my beginning… a beautiful blend of traditions and the cycle of life and death.

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    Reply
  9. There is such sadness in snow… i think white is so close to death, and that last flower is so poignant… a very well executed haibun.. Maybe this is how we all want to depart.

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    Reply
    • Thank you, Bjorn. That flower is very poignant. The quince flower in particular seems to be able to handle the strength of the icy snow…pretty impressive. I think we all would want to depart with the respect and love of our family and friends.

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  10. The signs in nature can really speak to us no matter in what mood or place we find ourselves. Lovely!

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    Reply
  11. Really well done. I recently thought a flower, blooming late, a Saint Joseph lily in fact, was meant for a neighbour that passed away unexpectedly. Couldn’t help associating the two events.

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    Reply
    • Thank you, I appreciate that. A wonderful, tender thought that the lily was meant for your neighbor. I would agree that there’s a link there.

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      Reply
  12. How thoughtful that you used this prompt to write this touching recollection of your uncle. The last line of the prose part caught my attention. Nicely done.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Oh, Victoria, you also thought this was a true story…several others did too. This was a fiction story out of my imagination. Perhaps I should start labeling my work as true or not. :) I’m really glad you liked it!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  13. Delicacy and depth captured here. That’s what I get from Basho and the great masters. Your touch is deft – calligraphic. It changes the canvas from prose to poetry and doesn’t disturb the landscape. You are a true poet.

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    Reply
  14. This is just gorgeous. So moving and hopeful.

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  15. Tears in my eyes while and after reading this absolutely exquisite piece. I did read the comments and was surprised to read that for you, this was an imagined time and place, motivated by the photo. Your writing is so clear and real and simplistically raw and emotional. The language rings true for the culture. Having been at a similar funeral, and the use of the simple word Uncle…absolute love and beauty here. Thank you for this post.

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    Reply
    • I’m somewhat familiar with the culture and have visited some Buddhist temples and practiced meditations so I wasn’t coming into my story with no knowledge. But somehow the story idea jumped into my head when I saw the photo. I feel very gratified that my writing has the effect that it does. Thank you very much for sharing your feelings with me, Lillian.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  16. Simply lovely, Gayle, filled with love and respect for a much loved member of the family. I. too was surprised to read that this is fiction ~ your imagination soars, bringing us with you! :)

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    Reply
  17. Gayle this is a poignant Post, sorry to hear about your Uncle, And I am sure the blossom held a message for you .. Spring always comes after the cold wait of Winter’s sleep.. Sending you and your family my condolences
    Love and Blessings..
    Sue

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    Reply
  18. What a touching haibun, your prose are so meaningful and heartfelt. I love how you tie hope with loss as endings and new beginnings. Beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  19. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade)

     /  January 21, 2016

    There is deep truth in this imagined scenario, and beauty in your words.

    Like

    Reply

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