Dear Still Water Friends,
I never read Oliver Sacks’ The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. Though in time I came to think I had. What I settle on, think, can leave me far short of what is or what might be. And so I’m glad I clicked on Sacks’ posted reflections on learning he had terminal cancer.
Sacks spoke of his gratitude for all he’d been granted. How intensely alive he felt, his sudden clear focus and perspective. How it was up to him to choose how to live out the months that remain to him.
I felt an easing inside, a heartfelt familiarity recognized from my own life and from our sitting and walking together. Here was the mud and the lotus. Sacks couldn’t pretend he was wholly without fear; yet his predominant feeling was gratitude for all life offered.
I found myself hanging, almost it seemed levitating on Sack’s words: his sense of awe and wonder; the spaciousness of what, for him, was the present moment. Too soon I was yanked back by an all too familiar: "What I have to do next…."
Then something wonderful happened. The words echoing inside me still were those same old ones. But the emphasis on "have" changed. All its heaviness was gone. What for so long I’d heard as a demand, in that moment I felt as a gift. The choice, as Sacks says, of how to live out all “the months” remaining to us.
"Every day," Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us, “we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child–our own two eyes. All is a miracle." (The Miracle of Mindfulness)
I know and forget this much of my time. When I do half glimpse something more, something miraculous, too often it’s out of the corner of one eye. Gone before I knew it. And yet, doesn’t the universe keep giving us another chance? Haven’t you, too, experienced moments when you’ve been pulled beyond the illusion, when daily life suddenly was seen as a miracle? What is your gift, your calling? What is it you have to do … be?
This Thursday we’ll welcome Mitchell home from his calling to Japan and Malaysia. And we’ll share our own understandings of how to practice so we don’t spend our whole lives in forgetfulness; how to open ourselves to more than what we think can be; how to recall, even realize, that our legendary moment wasn’t long ago and far away–but is here, now.
I hope you’ll join us.