My friend’s advice was to make sure my mind and my body were in the same place.
Maybe that is what, for me, is nourishing about reading. When I’m deep into the story, my mind is stayed in those lives that offer glimpses of my own. Yet somehow, I don’t linger on my own joys or troubles; today, I’m in touch with the character Clara’s courage to move forward and her pain in looking back. Informed but not attached to Clara’s past and aware of some future, I can savour what is happening now. I can hold her life lightly and leave more room for possibility.
That kind of attentiveness can happen at other times, too, and maybe that is one gift of doing less, not more, of the shifts in what are “have to’s” in my life right now.
I do like it how it is now—my daily life anyway. Mitch is around most of the time and we are actually quite good, in my opinion, at both having our own space and coming together at regular intervals. Sometimes we just know, and usually we ask each other, “where are you going to be today,” meaning which room. This house that seemed so small (compared to the one we left) now seems more than enough.
Life is simpler. There aren’t as many choices I choose to make. I don’t seem to be as concerned with finding just the right item at just the right price—I get what is available at one store. Often I find enough right here, a can of beans, wilted vegetables that are fine when cooked, unexpectedly delicious cookies made from oats and brown bananas and small bits of nuts, seeds, or dried fruit that might be hiding in our pantry.
The digital checkout at the library holds unforeseen treasures when the popular titles I wanted have a long waiting list. When I tired of reading so much electronically, my friend left a large shopping bag full of books on my porch by Canadian authors she thought I should read. I just took the first one out of the bag, no deciding. It’s a fine thing to trust someone else’s knowing. She also noted that they have been on her shelves without being touched for a long while, ready.
Each day’s walk brings new sights to see: flowers I didn’t notice last year, flowers on plants I thought were simply vines, the odd shapes of tree trunks in our neighbourhood. The dog and I explore the mostly empty grounds of the college a few blocks away where the Garry oaks and cedar trees seem more prominent since I’m one of the few on the paths. People I do pass, usually have a comment about the day or the dog or simply smile. They, too, seem to notice something that matters to them.
The air is clear to see a distance. Even on a recent cloudy day, I caught a glimpse of the snowy mountains beyond. Yesterday, at the college, I noticed for the first time that I could see downtown, like a postcard picture sent from a coveted destination. Over all those housetops nearby, a city unfolds.
Now, I did have a reason for writing here today. I read this morning that silent prayer, like centering prayer, is one way to savour God’s abundance. Even when my mind wanders to the clutter of imagined conversations, I can slip back, again and again, to the hum in my ear, to the feeling of belonging in my own body, that holy is here and now.