There are times when I feel most connected to life in the awareness of fleeting experiences that come to me in little epiphanies during the day. It doesn’t matter where I am. They are predicated on many things, however.. The time of day, the weather — including the sky and clouds and how the air feels — and where I happen to be at those times. Like life itself, those moments are unpredictable and yet they can be sought out and perceived consciously. It’s just that most of the time we go about our lives in busyness, not fully capable or willing to let those moments come to usin their full experiential joy and spontaneity.
For instance, I remember this summer walking across an open grassy area at midday on a July afternoon and feeling suddenly as if I was out in the country in some summer field with the hot, sweet smells of the earth very apparent. All that in the middle of a busy city full of traffic and city noises. At the nature preserve a few weeks ago, I was walking along the dike next to the old rice fields and wetlands and breathed in the fresh air off the marshes and woods nearby, borne on the strong breezes that always seem to be present there, and felt this awareness of deep-seated peace, as if I knew all would be right. Nature does that for me. It’s my source of strength — me alone with Nature — woods, streams, marshes, the sounds of ocean waves, sunsets.
Yesterday at the state park, walking among and under moss-hung branches and limbs of the magnificent live oak trees which are everywhere, I marveled at the quiet of the walkways, the shadows of the trees on that late afternoon with the perfect light of a waning day. Again, timeless and eternal moments.
These moments are what the writer Elizabeth Carothers Herron describes as “ordinary mysticism”. She wrote this in an essay that appears in a recent issue of Orion Magazine:
Late in the day I sit under the willows by the creek. The sun slants sideways through the leaves. A breeze picks up to ease the summer heat and fans through the trees. The narrow slivers of silver-gray of the willows, like a thousand tiny scimitars, catch the sun in sporadic shimmers. The mother willow’s many arms seem to spin from her gnarled and twisted trunk. She dances through the swirl of the seasons, while her roots hold fast and keep the creek bank stable through winter floods. One of her long arms wraps around behind me, low and into the ground so that if I did not follow its path I might imagine it to be a separate tree. Her sisters dance, too, up and down the creek….To live in time is what we hunger for, not to run to catch up with it, but to return to it.