We have an art gallery in our church. A recent display featured the work of Leonard Minni, an artist who lived in Rwanda before during and after the 1994 genocide.
He visited our congregation to tell us about the theme for his exhibition: Time.
The crowd listened in awed silence as he told us that many of his pieces involve sunsets, because when he watched the sun set during the trauma in 1994 he wondered if he would live to see the sun rise, and would he live to see another sunset?
One never knows what life holds.
Savour moments as precious. Soak up those sunsets. Be mindful with your Time.
The past is over.
The future may never be.
The present is all that exists.
Live each moment to the fullest.
Those words came with my Mother’s Day present from my daughter: a Buddha Board.
Based on the age-old Zen “Be Here Now” or “Power of Now” principle, the board’s surface holds the water you paint on it, for a short time, and then it dissipates. The user lives in the present, values it, and then lets it go.
I love that it allows me to be creative. I love that if I make a mistake, I watch it disappear into the ether. I love that when I paint something beautiful, I cherish it even more while it’s there, because I know it won’t last.
I put it on my family room end table beside Ganesh. (We are an ecumenical household.) Perhaps using it, or just the sight of it, will help me to live each moment to the fullest.
Visit the Buddha Board site at http://www.buddhaboard.com/
Don’t skip the intro. It’s beautiful, and the background sound soothes. I had the site open while writing this post, and the audio makes me want to leave it open all day . . .
This is the lesson from our week in the Rocky Mountains.
Weather forecasting here, we have to assume, comes with challenges. We’ve never experienced such changeable and unpredictable weather forecasts. We live in Ontario, Canada where we see weather systems moving in from a long way off, undisturbed by geological formations or mountain ranges. Here? Every weather forecast should read: “Honestly, we have no idea what’s going to happen.”
More than once we checked the weather in the evenings and made plans for the next day. The next morning, we awoke to a completely different forecast, exactly the opposite of what was said only 12 hours before. In the evenings, as gentle snow fell outside our window, we visited AccuWeather sites that told us it was currently sunny. We started called them In-AccuWeather sites.
We had to give up planning our outings and just wake up in the mornings and accept.
It returned us all to the ancient meditative practice of living in the present moment, which just might be the most valuable gift we received out of our vacation time.
Our umbrellas have been getting a workout in Ottawa this September. Our sunglasses also have been getting a working in Ottawa this September. Umbrella up, umbrella down. Sunglasses on, sunglasses off. It seems that there have been no sunny days, or rainy days. There have been sunny/rainy/sunny/rainy days.
My husband rides his bike to his job in downtown Ottawa as often as possible. This on-again, off-again weather presents a daily challenge. If he cycles to work in sunshine in the morning, he often returns drenched by a sudden downpour in the evening.
Last week he left his office in the late afternoon to begin the trek home under threatening skies. When he reached the corner of Mackenzie and Rideau, the traffic light turned red and the skies opened simultaneously. He stopped his bike and took refuge under a tree.
The corner of Mackenzie and Rideau is one of the busiest, most confusing intersections in the city. Mackenzie Avenue, Rideau Street, Sussex Drive, Wellington Street, and Colonel By Drive converge there. Just down the street from Parliament Hill, the intersection is the gateway to the Byward market. Traffic hurries to events at the Chateau Laurier, the Rideau Centre, or the Government Conference Centre. Then add construction into the mix. Impatient drivers blare their horns, cars run red lights, and pedestrians scurry to catch their bus or make it to a meeting on time.
That there is a tree at all in that busy place is a miracle in itself. Yet, there it grows determinedly in its cut-out in the relentless pavement. As my husband waited under this nature umbrella, he looked up. There in the branches of the tree was a bird’s nest.
For a moment, the roar of the traffic and the sound of rainwater splashing off tires receded into the background as he enjoyed a peaceful moment of appreciation of this beautiful incongruity: a bird’s nest in this junction of madness. And why had he never noticed it before?
Wherever you are
He looked around. People walked by without a glance. Cars carried on through the busy intersection. Drivers in cars stopped at the lights kept their eyes forward.
He realized that the people speeding by in their cars would never notice this small gift in their midst. The pedestrians in a rush to be where they’re going instead of where they are would never take time to appreciate a bit of wonder.
Perhaps the drivers in their cars that day looked out their windows and thought, “Poor sap. What’s he doing riding a bike on a day like this?” But he was filled with gratitude for having stopped while the world continued around him. He looked at those same people in cars and thought, “Poor saps. They’ll never even notice that this bird’s nest is here.”
When we slow down, when we stop, we receive small gifts of wonder.
Take a moment at some time today and really look around. What beautiful incongruity do you see that you never noticed before?