The mental image of a table takes precedence over the table as it actually exists, and the subsequent drawing suffers. As artist and educator, Mick Maslen, states, “Before you are able to draw, you have to learn to see.”
A similar statement can be applied to the art of living. In order to live well, we must learn to accurately perceive~~and fully experience~~life as it truly is.
Too often, our energy is devoted to conceptions about life rather than to the experience of life itself. The present moment is abandoned, either to reveries of past or future, or to a running commentary about what is occurring, complete with interpretations and positive or negative judgments.
Meditation is one method to override this very human tendency. In meditation, we learn to attend to what is, to fully perceive and savor this moment and nothing more.
At first, of course, we become acutely aware of the restlessness of our minds and the extraordinary variety of ways we are lured from the present. Unfortunately, folks often misinterpret this universal reality as evidence of their inability to meditate. But if we stick with it awhile, we become more skilled at leaving the bait of a fidgety mind unbitten. And then something marvelous occurs.
We open to the majesty of what is. For within each moment, a jewel awaits. As theologian, Forrest Church, puts it, “Hidden by the veil of time, eternity is pregnant in every moment of our existence, here, everywhere and always: the eternal now.”
The eternal awaits us, and it awaits us in this very moment. It flows as a perpetual stream, bubbling through our temporal lives, animating and infusing each minute of our existence. Because this is so, theologian Paul Tillich states, “…every moment of time reaches into the eternal,” as well. All we need to do is still our incessant busyness and open to it.
While specific periods of meditation are quite helpful in this endeavor, any activity that seems to stop time can bring us to the here and now. Immersing ourselves in nature, filling with the rich strains of music, deep intimacy with lover, child, or dear companion~~all these and more can bring the breath of the eternal to our awareness.
But there are no special external conditions required. I don’t need to sit on a wooded hillside overlooking a mountain stream to partake of this essence. Since the eternal enlivens every moment, it is available wherever I am. Even now, as I sit at my computer typing these words. Even now, as you sit there reading them.
With focused attention, and a bit of practice, we can learn to pull back the veil of our ordinary preoccupations and open to the glory that is here always.
May you feel the touch of the eternal in the coming week.