Beauty from Ashes


Beauty from Ashes

Twelve years ago today, we received one of those phone calls you never want to get. A family friend called from Switzerland to let Taido know that his father had tragically drowned trying to recover his daughter, Maya, who had also drowned. Maya, Taido’s half-sister, was five years old at the time, the same age as our oldest son, Cole.

We were living in Seattle and some dear friends offered Taido their frequent flyer miles so that he could leave immediately for Engelberg to lay his eyes on his father one final time before he was cremated, and to be present at a small ceremony.

Kobun, who I only ever knew as Taido’s father, was a celebrated Buddhist priest, so many ceremonies followed. In all corners of the world, people gathered to remember this man and his daughter. Two years ago, for a 10 year memorial of the tragedy, a book of essays was published about Kobun and Taido wrote the closing piece. I am a bit biased but this chapter remains one of the most beautiful pieces of writing Taido has ever penned, and that I have ever read.

I was reading it again today because, thanks to the radical generosity of the same friend who called Taido twelve years ago, we are spending much of our summer in the very home in Switzerland where Kobun and his family were living at the time of his death. I had never been here before and I was concerned before coming that it would be too difficult to be here, but the opposite has been true. The place (both the home and the surroundings) is soaked in beauty and peace. Our time here has been, in many ways, redemptive.

We spent a small part of this rainy anniversary remembering and praying together. As I light candles around the photos of Kobun and Maya, I pray that the memory of their deaths will be an instrument of grace for others today.

And if you have a minute today I highly recommend reading Taido’s chapter remembering his father, which can be found on his blog.


  1. Alison, thank you for the link to Taido’s remembrance. I thought I had read it before, but as I read a few paragraphs I realized I hadn’t. You’re right – it’s beautiful.

  2. Allison, thank you for sharing Taido’s remarkable piece. What a tribute to his father–and it speaks to the gift of parenting you both give to your own children.

  3. Just reread Taido’s piece about his father. I was once again amazed and challenged by it. Kobun has left a great legacy in his children and grandchildren. My prayers are with you all as you remember Kobun and Maya today.

    1. My pastor at Fellowship Batesville used the phrase “beauty from ashes” this morning, and it made me think of this post. Alison, I hadn’t thought much about it when I first read YOUR post, but the title is so fitting, especially when combined with Taido’s remembrance. His post (and yours) will stick with me for a long time.

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