As soon as I stepped out of the car and headed to the park behind the church for the evening's spiritual book discussion/exchange, I spotted the most beautiful deer peacefully drinking from a puddle in the parking lot. He lifted his head briefly, as I snapped one photo after another of him. I felt somehow at peace with him and didn't want to forget this moment. (Those photos can be found here.) The deer eventually trotted off. So, I got out my book to discuss and waited for others to show up, but no one came.
Today, I was told by an old friend that he was diagnosed with bladder cancer and the book I had planned to share couldn't have been more appropriate. In the Prologue of the book, "Life is a Verb," by Patti Digh, she asks the question "What would I do if I only had thirty-seven days to live?" It is an interesting question to ponder. How will I live my life between the gap of life and death?
There is a quote in the opening chapter that sums up the spiritual principle that I learned tonight. It is by Joyce Carol Oates and it reads in part, "...here, now, this very moment is sacred." The author states on page 8, "To live fully, you must be present in the biggest way possible." Buddha said, "If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly; our whole life would change."
So I decided to read more from this book, "Life is a Verb." When I reached page 18, there were some activities listed to complete. I'd like to share with you the insights I gained during these activities. I was given the following instructions:
- Put on some music and dance like a five-year-old for two minutes.
- Then get out your journal and write for three minutes (without pause, without raising your pen from the page or checking for spelling or grammar and all those other things that inhibit the flow of ideas) in response to the question: What brings me joy?
- After three minutes, read what you have written.
- Now for three minutes, write a description of the dance that would best demonstrate that joy. Be as detailed as you can in describing the physicality of that dance. How would you move in the world to express that joy?
- Then write for two minutes on this question: What keeps me from dancing that dance?
After dancing to the song, "Keep Your Head Up," by Andy Grammer (the only song I have downloaded on my phone), I wrote the following responses:
- What brings me joy? This place brings me joy - the crickets chirping, the squirrel jumping around, the deer smiling at me from afar. The lady asking me where the Labyrinth is that she had heard there was one. Apparently, she had not been here before because she asked if I were the pastor...oh me side note that's not what I really wanted to say oh yes it is. It brought me joy as no one else was here to share my thoughts with. No one to really see... (Time was up.)
- During my three minutes before I was supposed to read what I had written, I sat in silence and heard/saw things I had not previously: the motorcycle roaring down the street, the honking horn, the children playing despite the mother saying, "Shut up," the birds in the sky singing, the rose bushes, the beautiful trees and gazebo, the moths and mosquitoes, the busy street in front, the barking dog, the car hood slamming down, and the fireworks. This all went through my mind. The only things I had mentioned were the things that brought me joy in that 3 minutes. How wonderful! (Times was up again.)
- How to move in a joyful dance? I would definitely glide along the ground beneath my feet knowing that I was on holy ground. I would sway my hands like the breeze travels through the trees. I would sing it in my head as not to disturb that moment of pure joy - of peace - of clarity about what is important - of what I want - of what I give & receive when living in that moment and know that if I... (Again the timer goes off)
- What keeps me from dancing that dance is an interesting question. I really don't know maybe not giving it the time it deserves like the air I breathe; though I would be so much happier today...today I will dance the dance of joy and remember this moment.
Shortly after this, I began putting away the chairs that I had scattered on the patio. However, before I left I wanted to take a few photos of the gardens at the church. Guess who reappeared when I came around the corner? Yes, the deer had made its way back to the field where the Labyrinth was behind the church. I was so happy to see him as he looked back at me. Again, we shared a silent moment. I took a video this time. (That video can be found here.)
Tonight, I drove home with my windows rolled down - taking in all the sights, the sounds and the smells as the wind rustled through my hair. I was living in the moment and mindful of the present opportunity to experience joy. I continued to reflect on my time in Unity Park and the peace that I had experienced. I can't wait until Spirit and I connect again.