Sunday, August 03, 2014

The Last Few Moments

When I used to practice zazen fairly regularly there was a phenomenon that I experienced many, many times.  A moment would come when I would become convinced that the timer -- whether a human time keeper or an electronic aid -- had lost track, had fallen asleep, had stopped working for some reason.  I became convinced that the session had actually ended a while back but that I was going to be stuck sitting there endlessly because there'd be no final bell to announce the session's end.  I'd panic ... real, heavy-duty panic.

This happened a lot.

But it's what came next that was important to me.  Most often when this panic would set upon me I would then find arising in me, unbidden, the thought, "Okay.  So there will be no end bell.  I guess I'll just sit here then."  And I would settle into the most profound stillness.

And then the bell would ring.

But Oh than moment of stillness ....

There is something of an analogous phenomenon with which counselors and therapists are familiar.  Just as the client is walking to the door at the end of a session they will turn and say, "You know ..." and out will come the real issue they'd been dancing around before.  This is so common that some counselors actually call and end to their sessions a few minutes early so as to have room for these "doorway revelations."

What is it about the last moment?

During the month of July I was privileged to have the opportunity to take both vacation and study leave.  I was out of the office, out of the pulpit, out of the church for an entire month.  I return tomorrow morning to preach about, of all things, the bombing of Hiroshima and our need to work for peace.  (Quite a way to ease back into preaching, let me tell you!)  So this is the "last moment" of my time away.

July was spent not in quiet contemplation but in my car driving one kid to camp and turning around to take the other to a a job mowing somebody in the neighborhood's lawn.  (I did get to read a bit while he worked.)  Then I'd go home to take care of the dog, and then drive the now finished landscaping boy to his half-day summer class at the local community college.  A few moments of breathing time and I'd begin picking up the boys from their various and scattered locations.  Once a week I'd also take our dog to the dog park during that breathing time, and once a week he went to "doggy day care" so transporting him had to be worked into the mix.

A pretty busy month.  And because my wife started a new job during this time, the cleaning, the shopping, the cooking was all mine to do, too.  At times I thought that I must be pretty darned wicked because it certainly felt like there way no rest for me.

But now it's the last moment.

And a calm has washed over me.  And from this vantage point I can see all the gifts, all the blessings, all the wonder I had the opportunity to experience over the past several weeks.  I can see the challenges, and how I rose up to meet them.  I can see the unexpected delights and the surprise discoveries.  I feel the sense of rest and rejuvenation that the change in routine elicited.  (I once read somewhere the thought that a change of pace is as good as a holiday.)  I can feel that I am renewed and recharged.

Is there a "last moment" coming up for you?  Can you create one if there's not?

Pax tecum,


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1 comment:

Susie Allen said...

Hi Erik,
So good to find you through your blog and receive your invitation to pay attention to the last moments. I'm grateful for both things. Blessings from afar~
Susie Allen