One of our local small-town newspapers dedicates at least part of a page each week to obituaries and birth and wedding announcements. Occasionally there will be a couple pictured who are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. The cycle of life all on one page.
As we look at a newborn, we see all that we hope for in life. May that child grow strong and healthy. May he or she grow in wisdom and joy and may the path she/he follows be one of peace and contentment. We know that the child’s life will be filled with challenges. Obstacles will appear along the way. We know that baby will have to deal with sorrow, pain and loss. It is life.
Between the picture of the birth announcement and that of the obituary life happens. Much of it is boring, repetitious and lacking in excitement. Some of it is challenging, painful and even frightening. And then there are those moments, those very special moments, where life is exhilarating; filled with peace and joy. For a mountain climber, it might be reaching the peak. For a medical researcher it might be finding the key to a cure. A parent finds it in the birth of a child. Big moments in our lives remind us just how joy feels. But are these moment as rare as people think they are? Do they have to be out of the ordinary? Though we don’t find ourselves on mountain peaks or at the birth of a child every day, I want to suggest that we can find exhilarating and rewarding moments on a daily basis.
This morning I opened the back door to let Bentley out for his morning rounds. He checks the fence line smelling for predators who may have entered his yard during the night. These could be as frightening as a squirrel or two. He does this before he does his “duty.” I stood in the doorway watching the rain as it poured down hard, causing me to be concerned about another flood this summer. But I also did something else, I acknowledged the beauty of the rain.
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I watched as it tumbled down onto the bushes in the yard, danced in the puddles in our driveway, and watched as Bentley totally ignored it. I listened to it and felt the dampness. I even thought about how much water we need for crops. It was a lovely moment. Maybe not the highlight of my life. Probably not exhilarating. But it was lovely, even sacred.
This is how we find joy and peace each day. This is how we prevent attacks of boredom. And this is how we put meaning in our lives. By stopping to smell the proverbial flowers or take in the beauty of falling rain or enjoy a dog as he romps in the wet grass oblivious to how soaking wet he has become (and how bad he will smell). Just enjoying a moment in time.
You have heard it before and you will hear it again. Life happens in each moment. Yesterday is gone. No use worrying about it. Tomorrow does not yet exist. No use fretting about it. Now is here and filled with mystery and majesty if we but stop and become aware of it.
There is plenty of time to weep and moan, complain and be frightened … but now is always peaceful. And this now is the first day of spring, the solstice, a time for new life and new outlooks and the development of new habits … like mindfulness.
Mary Friedel-Hunt, freelance writer, publisher (Voice of the River Valley) and a licensed clinical social worker, has been a psychotherapist for 32 years. Her column runs weekly in Faith & Values. You may contact her by writing to: P.O. Box 189, Lone Rock, WI. 53556.