Sr Dieu Nghiem gives the Christmas Eve talk at Plum Village. She begins the talk by giving a history of the rains retreat during the Buddha’s time and how we have conducted the yearly rains retreat at Plum Village. In the past, the Plum Village rains retreat always encompassed Christmas and the New Year, but this year, only for the second time in Plum Village history, we are having Christmas outside the rains retreat.
During Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, four themes, which are joy, peace, love and hope, are celebrated. Sr Dieu Nghiem teaches on and takes us on a guided meditation for each of the themes. She leads us in discovering our daily joys, the joys of practice and sangha. Sr Dieu Nghiem introduces the Plum Village Peace Treaty and guides us to examine our regrets. Happiness is not an individual matter and we contemplate how we can begin to take steps to make peace with a person we would like to reconcile with. With joy and peace, there is love. True love is born out of understanding and we are invited to look at how we ourselves came to be who we are, then doing the same with a loved one, then with a person we have difficulties with.
When the elements of true joy, true peace and true love are present in our lives, hope then manifests and a shared future becomes possible.