Before I opened my eyes today, I felt cool air. It poured over my shoulders, neck, cheeks, and it felt like everything I love about a mid-September morning: black tea with honey, a flannel shirt, a heavy book. Except this morning I woke up into July. I still have a sunburn lingering from the weekend and there's sand grains scattered on my bedroom floor. So I felt some small sense of rebelliousness and pleasure when I opened my eyes to a room full of gray light and deep green leaves outside my window which told me, first thing, "hush." And even though it's a Wednesday morning, and I could have thrown the covers off and looked at the clock, I didn't. Because I couldn't. This morning felt drenched in the glances and senses that illuminate an hour, make an ordinary summer morning sacred and brimming with belonging. So my soul and me settled into the covers and listened, and saw.
Maybe you're like me, and you know that quiet moments like this don't catch you very often. More often than not, though I love meditation and stillness and prayer, the self of my interior is flustered, asking thousands of questions and remembering many tasks and anticipations and worries. Mostly I feel buzz and I feel sink, I think ahead and behind, but when these moments interrupt me, I realize now is here, and here is hush, and all the asking and remembering becomes a fog dissolved by the clarity of the present moment:
How sweet one breath can be, one breath of a finite string of breaths you'll take in your life, this profound and remarkable pearl holding you in this second, this day, a year in your only story. What a cool nose and warm toes feel like, with blankets draped on your shoulders and eyes blurry from sleep. How your heartbeat pulses in your fingertips, and you, astonished that you're living at all, hold this moment with these thin vessels as they pulse, pulse, pulse: yes you're alive in here, yes you're unfolding in this skin and bone and muscle, yes in your softness and in your strength. How nobody sees you but the tree outside your window, and the photographs on your walls and the dog curled up by your bed. The sweetness of being unseen for a little while is the paradox of feeling more seen than when eyes are on you, when someone is noticing your curves and your colors. Here your curves and your colors are singing praises and praying prayers the way daisies and clover sing and pray: with breeze on their shoulders and rooted in blankets of soil, brilliant and lovely, whether or not they're picked, admired, or passed by.
And it's here that you glimpse something eternal, about the way you love and are loved: a surprise taste of the fall in summertime, one that gives you goosebumps and you're too content to smile, or make a sound, or move at all. Just a hush, a sense in your lungs and your veins and on the tip of your nose that this is the reason why people say the heart of life is good, or cite God's grace, or greet a new day with stretched palms and and exhalations. Because it deserves our attention, this being-in-the-world, this being-at-all, this world, this morning full of softness and sense. Beholding and behelding.
I hope you take a moment to pause and pull a breath from this day deep into your belly. You have this day, and this day has you. I hope you remember that you are astonishing and I hope you are astonished by yourself, because you're brief and fleeting and also rebelliously and beautifully full of life. Today clasp your hand into your other hand, even with frantic and fearful things in your heart, and invite yourself into a moment of hush, like a mother or lover, with deep care and kindness and desire for your good.
Many great thinkers and believers and doers in our world have told us that we cannot bring peace outside of ourselves if we haven't brought peace within us first. The act of accepting an invitation into the present, of noticing and loving a moment, is an act of peace in the world.