Wondrous World: Look Out and be Present

September 2, 2022

“Look-out,” said the sign, so “William” stopped to look out at the view. I stopped too. As I waited for William, I felt a call to wake up and look out, to come out of my interior funk/fog and be present, fully embodied in the moment.

Last week was a working holiday, (read holy-day). We took our grandchildren camping and hiking. It was a vacation from my daily cares because the intensity of child care forced me to be fully present in the moment. There was no time or energy for anything else.

Every morning we awoke with the sun, had a quick breakfast of instant porridge and hit the trail. My usual heady and essential morning devotional practice was set aside; instead, the physical work of hiking in the outdoors was my devotional practice. I couldn’t help but think of the daily lives of Trappist and Benedictine monks, who consider their work part of their spiritual discipline.  

As a farmer and a parent, I have always known that physical work is a spiritual practice. How could it be otherwise? The Holy One is available and accessible to all, and not just to those whose time of life or vocation allow for sitting in silence. Besides, my faith tradition, like many others affirms the presence of the Divine permeating all the natural world, including me, and my physical movements.

Years ago, when I was caught up in constant anxiety, I participated in a 6-week Mindfulness based stress reduction program. It was fully funded by Ontario health insurance because mindfulness is recognized as a practice which greatly contributes to mental health. The basis for mindfulness is the understanding that much of our mental health suffering is caused from thinking about our circumstances, or trying to change them.

Mindfulness means to bring focus and attention to the present moment. I think it’s a bit of a misnomer because it really doesn’t have anything to do with the mind. It doesn’t mean to think about the present moment but to be fully present and physically participating in the present moment.

This past week we were fully present to sunshine and rain, rocks and sand, trees and grass. We were so hungry that all of the food tasted delicious. We came home wet, dirty and with a few bruises from falls. I was physically tired but exhilarated and renewed, grateful for time spent with loved ones. Mother nature had embraced me as one of her own.

My working vacation has ended but holidays continue. Every day is “holy-day” when I keep looking out and am present to the moment.

Gratitude Prompt: Give thanks for holidays and for vacations – when we vacate our normal routine.