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In Mindful Memory

In Memory of Nora de Graaf
True Fruition – 1917-2003
A Lover of Silence and of Life

“Am I going to die?” Nora asked, ten days before her death, more curious than fearful. “Are you ready to die?” one of her many visitors asked. There was silence.

“Yes,” Nora said, with the quiet conviction that characterized her life. Days later, she requested, “Open the window, the butterfly wants to fly away.” The next afternoon, the butterfly left. Nora de Graaf, friend and teacher, “Mother” of the Dutch Sangha, was gone.

Her quest to understand and bring meaning to her life began as a young woman. She studied with many religious teachers and collected an extensive library of teachings. She met Thich Nhat Hanh in the early 1980’s, and felt a lasting and deep heart connection with him. Her own teachings attracted more and more people, and she quietly and firmly laid the foundation for the current Dutch Sangha. In 1992, she received the lamp transmission and became a Dharmacarya.

Nora was a light for many in the Netherlands. She sought to understand her own suffering — including dealing with the progressive nervous disorder, Parkinson’s disease — which helped her to understand others’ suffering.  She helped many people discover the healing power of silence. Nora had a passionate love of life, expressed through music and gardening, and especially through her encounters with everyone she met. Her daughter Nel, her friend Sietske, and many from the Dutch Sangha were present for a simple and moving ceremony during which family and friends remembered Nora, before setting her to rest in a beautiful cemetery under high old trees.

Offered by Dutch Sangha members Sietske Roegholt, Eveline Beumkes, Shelley Anderson, and Francoise Pottier.

In Memory of Alexandra Glankoff

It is with great sadness that the Community of Mindfulness Metro New York shares that Alexandra Glankoff, a cherished member of our Tuesday night Sangha for many years, died on January 19, 2003. Alexandra was traveling with friends and drowned while swimming off the coast of Verkala in southern India. Her presence in our community is greatly missed. Alexandra was a NewYork City public school teacher and was pursuing a Doctorate in Urban Education at the City University of New York. She also sat with the Educators’ Sangha, sharing how she integrated mindfulness practice into her work. She taught her students to use mindfulness meditation as a concentration practice prior to examinations, and invited the mindfulness bell to bring her students back to the present moment. She loved working with inner city teenagers, and among her contributions were coauthoring a multicultural curriculum, coaching a championship debating team, and directing a video with teenagers entitled, “Consider Us! The Children’s Rights Collective, Working Together For Our Tomorrow.”

Alexandra and I were in the same family and discussion group at Plum Village in 2002. She shared that she had been suffering from seizures caused by a head injury that occurred several years before in a car accident, which had left her in a coma for several days and taken the life of her mother. Because of the seizures, Alexandra took a leave of absence from teaching to heal, to grow, and to reflect on her life.

While at Plum Village, Alexandra came to know and greatly admire Sr. Khe Nghiem, who showed her great kindness and one time walked with her through the woods of Lower Hamlet to a small lake. Alexandra shared that walk with me, and returning, we saw a deer in the distance. Reflecting the golden light of the setting sun, the deer jumped over the thigh high sunflowers, appearing and disappearing as it jumped through the field. The golden grace of that leaping deer was a treasure we shared. Alexandra was just like that deer.

Bernadette Pye, Tuesday night Sangha, with Gloria Schwartz, Educator’s Sangha

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Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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