I don't think I'm always awake for my own life. I'm way too distracted. At times, my focus is totally inwards, so that I miss much of what goes on around me. At others, I'm all external, which means I skip over the me in those experiences-- how I fit, what I feel, what I bring, and what I take away.
It is not a very present life. It is not a very intentional life. It's a life lived later, or next week, or not at all.
A few months ago, I was at OSRUI for Shabbat Shira-- a retreat that combined song and prayer and community and holiness in a profoundly rich and wondrous handful of days. On Friday morning, for shachrit, we participated in a movable feast-- a service that literally moved us from one place to the next, had us praying and eating and singing that bent the light, so to speak. In each place in the service-- physically, spiritually, mentally, we were asked to notice differently, challenged to engage differently, so that every one of our senses was awake and aware.
It was a sacred, holy thing. I think I caught fire-- or at least my head and my heart did. We walked together to the lake, and I could think-- be aware of, awake for-- how the cold hit my body, how the path lay dappled in gentle light, the sweet scent of a distant fire. I heard the crackle of stiff leaves fighting with the song of birds and tasted the first hint of winter.
While we all stood at the lake, water lapping at the shore and the sun filling a cloudless sky, we prayed, we were awakened to the miracle of a new day. I am infinitely grateful that I am awake and alive and part of the wonders that fill every moment and make every moment holy.
This is what I wrote that day. This is what I took away:
We walkedFrom one place to anotherIn quiet wonder at the rising of the morning.
Light filled usAnd color.Under canopies of goldShot through with greenAnd strong branchesFlecked with a suddenness of blueStretching halfway to forever.Geese and crowsSang their psalmsTo the OneOf Creation andBecomingA murmurous mix ofThe shuffles of leavesA muffled crunchSignaling summer's slow endSoft-voiced under canopies of gold.
Chill air coiled around my fingersMy bare-skinned fingersAnd the rough bark ofBare treesSuddenly baredGently, sweetly baredYet roughEdged in hardnessAnd sudden sweet chill.
They beganThey endedDistinct and edgedIn beginning to endWhat I sawWhat I heardWhat I feltOn that wondrousThat gloriousThat holy walk we tookTo greet the rising of the day.
That scent of morningOn that shared pathThat leaf-edged path--The morning scents wereAlmostWere not quiteAnd in-between.
They urged me onBrought me here to this edgeQuickening me to this light-filled edgeThis beginningthis endingOf earth and skyWith such fullnessA richness of sound and light and still,With an ever-presentBecoming.
(From my blog, titled Modah Ani, posted October 2012)Amen.