Seeing Things

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Yesterday, I had to see my grandchildren with a lot of space between us. Such encounters have a name now: Fence Visits. Many people have lived through fence visits with their loved ones, in prisons, or in isolation wards and now, separated by a virus that is a silent, temporarily incomprehensible enemy.

But one thing that no virus in the world can kill is hope. Hope, we are told, springs eternal in the human breast. And that seems to me to be a fitting thing to say on this first day of Spring, 2020.

As I left the park after I had watched my grandchildren from a safe distance, I saw an elderly woman. She was taking a photograph of a bed of daffodils. The significance, for me, of her act was this: that in the midst of the sadness, the anxiety and the uncertainty we are living through, she chose to pay very close attention to the brief life of a flower. And that is far, far, from being merely a sentimental response. Many theologians and philosophers have written about the importance of attending to the moment we are in. This is central to the practice of meditation because, in truth, there is only the present. Make of it what you will. Breathe it in. Listen to the sounds of the present. Look at its contours, its rhythm and its music. The poetry of the present moment is your life.


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