By Julie Elliot –
Our real life will begin when we’re more caught up, in better shape, more organized. As soon as we get through this we’ll be ready.
Twenty years ago, I read a story in A Woman’s Book of Days by Donna Sinclair. It’s simple and charming. It’s also wise. After all these years, it comes into my mind often. Here it is:
I overheard our two sons, David and Andy, talking when they were five and three respectively. Both were equipped with paint and paper. They were happily swirling the one on the other, and on their father’s old shirts worn as smocks.
“What’s it going to be, Andy?” asked David, in his best kind-big-brother fashion.
“It’s something now,” said Andy happily, as he continued painting.
Our lives are not waiting to happen. We are something now.
Such a simple and beautiful story of presence! I can see Andy’s absorption in his painting – his delight in the moment – and I see what’s not there too. He’s not concerned if his painting is any good. He hasn’t a thought about whether it’s art or not. He’s not wondering if David likes it or where it will go when it’s finished. Instead, he’s likely noticing how it feels to load the brush with luscious paint and mix it into the wet colors on his paper. He’s seeing that when he adds yellow to the blue, suddenly there’s green in the picture. For sure he’s noticing the smell of the paint and how it feels as it dries on his hands.
Most of us would like to live our days with that kind of awareness too – a knowing that the present moment is all there is and we’re not waiting for “what it’s going to be.” But when we get busy we can live inside an idea that our lives aren’t quite happening now. We’re distracted and pulled around by external stimuli. We imagine our real life will begin when we’re more caught up, in better shape, more organized. As soon as we “get through this” we’ll be ready. Get through what? Be ready for what?
We can bring these questions to spiritual direction to sort out our beliefs and how those beliefs are shaping our lives. Even if we arrive in a swirl of busyness, we know that slowing down is already bringing clarity.
“Who is it that can make muddy water clear?” asks the Tao Te Ching. “But if allowed to remain still, it will gradually become clear of itself.”
Within the safety of this relationship, a question might open up a whole new way to look at something. What’s taking up space in our mind and heart? What could be let go of, to bring us more fully into the present moment? With our spiritual companion, we explore questions like these and the muddy waters become more clear. Giving voice to our inner experience, we understand ourselves and our lives more deeply. We remember what Donna Sinclair said so well, “Our lives are not waiting to happen. We are something now.”
Julie Elliot is an alum of the Pacific Jubilee Program. She’s also responsible for communications for Pacific Jubilee. If you have questions or comments about this blog, please be in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Jubilee Programs offer training in spiritual direction, spiritual growth and soul development. We explore the contemplative life through spiritual practices including the enneagram, integration of head/heart/body, silent retreats, “holy listening” in journey groups and contemplative prayer and meditation. Read more about spiritual direction by clicking on our 3 national programs: Ontario Jubilee, Pacific Jubilee, Prairie Jubilee