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The Blue Poppy and the Mustard Seed

A Mother's Story of Loss and Hope

After the death of her six-week-old son, Liam, Katie Willis Morton embarked on a courageous search for solace and understanding. The Blue Poppy and the Mustard Seed invites readers to share in her voyage as she travels the world and the landscapes of her own experience. Interweaving what she witnesses--simple rituals like children's baths and picnics, and birth and death rites--with her own recovery and growth, she discovers that the pain she has experienced is both unavoidable and necessary, a pivotal part of the process of healing that can lead to ""a victorious kind of joy, of acceptance.""In discovering herself, Morton speaks to readers suffering similar tragedies, and indeed to all of us, in an intimate and inspiring story about enduring world-shattering pain and coming out whole.

The Blue Poppy and the Mustard Seed helps us confront the universal truths of love and loss that we all will eventually and inevitably encounter. This book will be a comfort to anyone who has faced a tragic loss, but not only that, it takes us all on a rich journey, through joy, suffering, and ultimately to hope, in a way that is quietly beautiful and, above all, utterly life-affirming.

Kathleen Willis Morton holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of New Orleans. A practicing Buddhist since age seventeen, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her family.

"This is an extraordinarily moving, beautiful, and compassionate book about the universal subject of loss and how one couple came to understand why the Buddha's request to bring him a mustard seed from any household where no-one had ever died could never be fulfilled. Totally life-affirming."

– Mandala

"The Blue Poppy and the Mustard Seed is courageous and graceful, a redemptive story of love, compassion, and the need, sometimes, to go a great distance before finding our way home. This is a marvelous jewel of a book!"

– Dinty W. Moore, author of The Accidental Buddhist

"This extraordinarily moving book describes journeys: one a child's life and death journey that no parent would want to tread, and one a journey of self-discovery to far-off places. Liam, astonishingly beautiful like the mythical Tibetan blue poppy, lived in this world for a mere six weeks but the impact he had on his parents remains indelible. His short life was a tough Dharma lesson for a brave couple whose relationship and beliefs were tested. Morton's keen and sympathetic eye for detail makes their healing travels after Liam's death to places like China, Nepal, Tibet, Frankfurt, Prague and Venice come alive. This is a beautiful, compassionate book about the universal subject of loss and how one couple came to understand why Buddha's request to bring him a mustard seed from any household where no-one had ever died could never be fulfilled. Sad, but totally life-affirming."

– Nancy Patton, editor of Mandala

"Katie's journey of grief is deeply informed and guided by her Buddhist faith, though it provides no easy answers, and it does not exempt her from the pain of her loss, nor should it. It does give her a means to return again and again to a wider view of her personal experience, to a place of compassion for herself, her young husband, and for the human condition... We can be grateful for her courage in sharing her story and her hard earned wisdom."

– Kate McCandles for The Pacific Rim Review of Books

"Kathleen Willis Morton writes of the loss of her infant child from the depth of the heart's own truth. The Blue Poppy and the Mustard Seed reveals in unflinching detail the way in which pain summons its own healing and restores one to one's own natural life again. Morton has written a book of immeasurable value to anyone who has known, or will ever come to know, loss of a comparable kind."

– Lin Jensen, author of Together Under One Roof

"Kathleen Willis Morton's story shows us how a compassionate heart can help us face even the most painful of situations. Truly, the Buddhist path and mind of enlightenment bring comfort to not only ourselves, but to all around us."

– Anyen Rinpoche, author of The Union of Dzogchen and Bodhicitta

"A book well worth reading--wrenching and beautifully written."

– Kate Wheeler, author of Not Where I Started From and When Mountains Walked

"Morton has written an honest and deeply observed testament to the greatest loss of all. A poignant telling of a grieving mother's spiritual task--to bear it all and then let it go. A comforting and necessary read."

– Karen Maezen Miller, author of Momma Zen

"Kathleen Willis Morton has created a unique, tender-hearted, and elegantly-written memoir. As I traveled with this brave and honest woman on her braided journey - across the globe, into Buddhism, and through grief--I found sights I didn't know I was missing, wisdom I didn't know I was needing, and solace I didn't know I was seeking. Thank you, Kathleen, for letting me walk beside you."

– Rachel Simon, author of Riding The Bus With My Sister

"The Blue Poppy and the Mustard Seed is a tribute to all mothers who struggle with the enormous grief that follows devastating loss. A thoughtful, honest, and hopeful book."

– Anne Hood, author of The Knitting Circle