On Being Awake in the Present Moment

One of the joys of a holiday or retreat away from the usual busyness of life is the opportunity to be still and just look, listen, smell, touch, taste and really be awake. It is a time to set aside the 'to do' list and just be.

We can so easily sleep walk our way through life, not noticing life itself, even our own life. I can be busy but not really attentive to what is going on around or within me.

I wrote in 'Beatitudes: a call to let go' about a recent retreat in Galilee. This is another reflection arising from that week. Most afternoons I sat for a while on a rock by the lake, with my feet in the water. Sometimes I tried to sketch what I saw or took photos. Sometimes I prayed. Sometimes I just sat and looked and listened. 

On 2 occasions I deliberately did nothing except observe a square yard in front of me for at least half an hour. (This had been a suggestion of the retreat leader.) The photo at the head of this post is the small area I chose. It was at the edge of the shore with the water gently lapping around the small rocks. At first glance there was nothing especially interesting - no bright colours, no unusual shells or fish. The longer I watched, the more fascinating it became. The scene changed every second as the water moved, the sunlight altered, small fish came and went, insects hovered around. It was the same place, but each moment was new.

In her book 'The Grand Option: Personal Transformation and a New Creation' Christian philosopher Beatrice Bruteau wrote this:

"Each succeeding moment is fresh, is genuinely new, is not a rerun. We tend to greet every moment as a repeat of the general forms of the past, or even to assume that we are existing in the midst of a great “still,” not a moving picture at all. There is a sense in which we do not realize that we are alive. We spend our days among the dead, recording the inscriptions on the tombstones. The spiritual teachers try to break us out of this limited consciousness into a new world that they call being Awake."
From 'the Grand Option' by Beatrice Bruteau

The video 'A Good Day' from David Steindl-Rast is a reminder that today and this present moment is the only one we have. It is worth being awake so as not to miss each 'only' moment that we have.

Photo: my own