Dearly Beloved, Grace and Peace to you. Each morning I begin the day with a walk in the woods. It's not for exercise, though I sometimes go quite a distance, nor to walk the dog, though he comes along. It's to begin the day by being on the earth, being in a body, being alive. I practice being there, and not being somewhere else in my head. I use my senses, taking in what is around me. I look at everything and notice stuff. I notice the trees, the colors and textures and shapes and shades. I notice the air, and how warm or cold it is, the wind, the clouds, the moon. I notice gravity, and how my body works with it. I feel my breathing. I listen to the little sounds, the conversations of the grasses, the birds, the brooks beneath the other sounds of distant traffic and planes. I'm not analyzing, judging or thinking. I am simply mindful of being a mammal moving across the ground, moving through the presence of God, being alive.
Oh, I'm not Thich Nhat Hanh. My mind wanders. I think of the coming day, or imagine some silly scene, or carry on some argument with an imaginary person. But then, by grace, I return. I come back into the woods. I return to the present. Sometimes it takes a while, but I get there.
I've discovered you can do this anywhere, whether or not you have woods. In cities and suburbs, alone or in crowds, you can pay attention. You can begin the day by being mindful, paying attention, returning moment by moment to the present, here and now. Even in this moment, siting at your computer, you can stop and look around, or close your eyes and breathe. You can be alive. Sometimes that is enough. Sometimes it is important that that is enough.
Deep Blessings, Pastor Steve
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