Monday, April 29, 2013

Ordinary Time

The Rays of the Morning Sun Reflected on the Western Mountains
-The Beginning of Another Ordinary Day-

Lots of people really don't like Mondays. They find a certain drudgery inherent in the beginning of a new work week. I knew someone who used to tell me that if he could "get through" Monday, he could  probably endure the rest of the week.

As I was eating breakfast today, looking out at the rays of the sun on the mountains outside the front of my retreat house, I thought about this ordinary, everyday Monday,  and I reflected on an NPR radio program I heard yesterday. 

Krista Tippett has a weekly broadcast titled, "On Being," (by the way you can download the podcast-well worth it). Yesterday Krista interviewed a wonderful poet named Marie Howe who talked about the "sacredness of ordinary time." 

As a poet, Ms. Howe related how she tries to capture the power and depth inherent in "ordinary"moments in time. She went on to say, however,  that you can't find the sacred in the ordinary unless you allow yourself to live in the present and be aware of the moment.

Ms. Howe spoke about a writing class she teaches in which she asks her students to write a few sentences about what they had "observed" that morning before coming to class. Many students find that they are unable to so. 

She went on to say that her students (like most people) find it  painful to write about their observations because most of them haven't observed anything. They were on their cell phones, texting, driving, preparing for class, thinking about what they were going to do for lunch.  Very few were actually  aware of the present moment,  and therefore were unable to share their observations even in a sentence or two.

Professor Howe said that, every once in a while a student will "get it"and the simple observations of the moment suddenly turn into poetry.  She recounted one sentence written by a girl in her class,  "This morning I listened to the crunch of an apple I was slicing,  and saw the gleaming of the knife."  

When we are able to be truly present to life as it comes to us, we can all find that the "ordinary" is always "sacred."

During the program, a saying of the the famous Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh was quoted, "When you are washing the dishes, imagine you are cleaning the baby Jesus or the Baby Buddha." 

Yes, it is an ordinary Monday - another opportunity to enter into sacred time and sacred space. 

Today I will listen for the crunch of the apple and observe the gleaming of the knife.  Today I will wash the dishes and hold the baby Jesus and the baby Buddha in my hands. 

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