Moments of Joy by Sister Jina van Hengel – Book Review

Moments of Joy is the first ever collection of poems written by Buddhist nun Sister Jina van Hengel. The book is divided into four seasons – Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring. Each part has poems describing the awareness of moments in the respective seasons.

The poems beautifully tell us how to enjoy everyday life and the little things. This book sheds whole new light on the art of gratitude. The poems are very refreshing and simple. The subjects of the poems are the tiny little things we experience in our day to day life, like sun, rain, breeze, clouds, etc. Sister Hengel succeeded in capturing many simple observations in these poems, thus, composing raw and beautiful poems.

The poems remind us of the importance of living in the present, because that is the only moment that we have. Embracing life and being here and now is the secret of mindfulness. In the current world, achieving mindfulness is greatly difficult. We always get carried away by concerns about various things and we fail to experience the present.

A poem says, 

“The village cemetery
A garden of wild flowers
Pink! Yellow! Purple!”

I’ve never read a comparison like this in my life. It gave me immense peace of mind to think of a cemetery and see a garden of wild flowers. Isn’t it amazing? There are many incredible poems like this in the book which make you see the world in an entirely different manner. Reading this book was a meditation in itself, for me.  

Sister Jina van Hengel, a direct monastic student of Thich Nhat Hanh, is famous for her Zen poetry. Zen emphasizes strict self-restraint, meditation-practice and insight into the nature of mind. I believe the essence of it all can be seen in each gem of the poem in this book. 

The book is releasing on October 27th, 2020. I feel absolutely privileged for the opportunity to read this book before the world does. My utmost gratitude to Parallax Press and Penguin Publishing Group for sharing the advance reviewer’s copy with me.