what you choose to do with them is up to you.
~ Richard Bach
I have never known a period in my life when I could not see even a little of what was down the road. Yet today, and probably tomorrow with a series of tomorrows following, I cannot even see around the bend. I have adjusted to uncertainty, the absence of security, and accepting, rather than resisting, change and what is simply now for nothing remains the same from one moment to the next – and, nothing is certain. It is in the clinging to what I believe is reality that causes resistance and, ultimately, some sort of suffering. Yet, my so-called realities have been turned upside down and inside out. In order not to suffer but to learn and grow from these experiences, I have had to completely surrender to the unknown – what may, or may not, lie ahead.
I awake early these days. The music of the birds begins around 5:00 a.m. This is a magical hour for me as the sounds of nature – insects, birds, the rustling of tree tops as the dawn breezes make their entrance for the day – envelop me with a subtle soothing of spirit. There is power in these moments and I realize that while quite small in the greatness of the Universe, I am, after all, a part of it.
I sit with my second cup of freshly brewed Assam tea, resting fully in this moment, the only moment I truly have. Yet, my mind wants to wander, project, ponder, plan, worry, dive into panic and fear, and … so much more. I invoke a focus on my breath observing the inhale, the exhale, again and again, bringing myself back to the moment, if only for a brief second.
I recently returned to a deeper meditation practice due to the tumbling events in my life for I find it essential to my well-being that I stay in the present.
In taking on this practice, I have come to realize how much of the time my mind resides elsewhere other than in the now – the future, the past, reliving a conflict, or even painful times, all creating anxiety and fear. I chose the quote above from Richard Bach because it speaks to an accountability for the actions I have taken in my life, without blame or shame. I create most, if not all, of my realities and how I choose to react and interact with them determines my happiness, sorrow, peace, and equanimity. This was the Buddha’s great teaching and one that is not easily learned – at least for this writer.
So, how I choose to respond to, and cope with, what IS in my life – an attitude of love or anger, caring or indifference, compassion for myself or self-pity and regret, compassion or resentment towards others, love or envy, letting go or grasping, generosity or greed, forgiveness or retribution – are all choices available to me.
It helps me to stay in the present moment by giving full attention to the smallest details of my daily life. I practice my “practice” by trying to be awake to my thoughts, words, and deeds. I am discovering that the simplest of tasks can be sacred: the ceremony of brewing tea, the selection of a hand-thrown mug, watching the milk pour into the aromatic black essence, the first taste that, for me, vanquishes all doubts and fears, the subsequent sips that cool with time, and the final act of washing the beautiful mug with its exquisite celadon glaze so it can be neatly placed into its safe abode in my cabinet.Sacred Attention © 2006 Lee Anne Morgan.
For many years I was driven in my life, choosing ambition, perfectionism, and desire for material gain as primary goals and marks of achievement. The concepts of surrender over control and mastery, humility instead of self-righteousness, and living simply enough so that some can simply live replacing desire and acquisition, were foreign to me. I made my life choices and today I live with the results of those actions. I do not make myself wrong. I did what I thought was right at the time. I do not lament as Magdalene did, for I have learned in this School of Life that we are human works-in-progress and on the ladder of evolution, still quite primitive. I can only hope, perhaps strive, to do no harm to myself or any other living being when I speak, act, and think. Is this possible to achieve? I do not know. I believe it is worth the peace though that I feel when I walk in harmony with my soul. I believe it is a goal worthy of my sincere effort.
Ten Years Past
About ten summers ago, also a time of change in my life, while hiking high up in the Catskill Mountains, I came across a fresh water lake. The sun was high; the water crystal clear. I sat at the edge of the lake and debated whether or not to take a picture of the twigs and branches at the bottom that I saw so clearly through the pristine water. I looked into the water a long time before I took my camera in hand and shot straight through to the depths of the lake. What emerged as a final image was unexpected and it confirmed to me then, as it does now, that the unknown opens new pathways and new adventures and, if grace touches me, a beautiful, haunting image is awakened and brought forth.
I made the decision a few years ago to simplify my life. This has been a long journey, mostly voluntary, and not one of sudden impulse. However, of late, life circumstances not of my choosing are closing certain chapters in my life. The details are not important for they will unfold and be what they will be. I recognize that I have no control over anything really, only my attitude towards these matters and how I treat others, including myself. I am learning to surrender to the moments that make up a minute, an hour, a day. So, not seeing down the road is not so bad or scary at all, but simply the cosmic perfection in its imperfection.
So, I sit, breathe, and offer gratitude for each hallowed moment.
The RiverWinds Gallery in Beacon, NY will be exhibiting more than 30 pieces of my work beginning June 11 – July 3. If you can join us for the Artist Reception on June 11 from 5p.m. to 8 p.m., please do! If not, feel free to stop in at another time for the Gallery is open six days a week. A special thank you to Linda, Mary Ann, and Virginia for providing this wonderful opportunity.