Monday, June 24, 2013


a hummingbird in my meditation garden

I came across a box of "memories" yesterday - the kindergarten drawings of our now-grown sons, programs from school plays and graduation ceremonies, photographs of our many family vacations, the cruise to the Greek Islands that my wife and I took for our 25th wedding anniversary. 

They say that when you die, your life flashes before you. I sort of had that experience yesterday when I opened up that box of memories. It seemed as if all those many years had all happened in a flash. 

There is a Zen saying: 

To what shall I compare this life of ours?
Even before I can say
it is like a lightning flash or a dewdrop.
It is no more.

I have been thinking about the flash of "time."

I could open up that box and bask in happy memories of days gone by- time frozen in a child's drawing or a photograph on a cruise ship. I could also open up the box of the past and think about what I could have done with my life but failed to accomplish.

Perhaps, realizing how quickly time passes by, I could also get out pen and paper and start making my "bucket list" -  those 10 or 20 places I want see or those things I yet want to do before I die.

But, the more I think about it, nostalgically dwelling in the past or longingly looking toward what yet may be, can be a foolish use of time - doing these things actually squanders the gift of time.

The monk, Tomas Merton, once wrote in his diary:

The one thing that has grown most noticeably in my spiritual life
is the grip the "present" has on me.
I am getting older:
the reality of now- the unreality of all the rest.

I so very much identify with what Merton says.  I am getting older and in my later years I have received a gift: the awareness that there is no reality other than this moment here and now. 

So, I open a memory box and realize that you can't freeze time in a photograph, nor can you control time by making a bucket list or devising a strategic plan.

The only thing "real" is here and now. 

So, in the flash of time, I savor the moment. 

It's summer in the desert - triple digits. I sit at my office desk and the air conditioner gently cools our retreat house. I look out my window and the hummingbirds are swirling around the feeder in the meditation garden, the fountain is bubbling, the morning doves are cooing,  and a little yellow butterfly is perched on a branch of a lemon tree.

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