Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Inner Harvest

Time is the one commodity that has no way of repeating again. Its harvest comes instantly at every moment we experience and then it is gone. This moment will never be repeated. This is the essence of the Buddhist understanding of moksha or illusion. Because this moment is so unique, its preciousness implores us to harvest it for the power of life that is before us. We spend so much time worrying about the past or being anxious about the future that we rarely see the preciousness of this moment. It is not that the reality is any less real. Pain hurts, weapons maim, poverty throbs in millions of lives. The entire universe, said the Buddha, 2300 years before Quantum physics, is destroyed and reborn in each moment. So it is with our lives, our past actions remain, memories persist, but the new moment before us is all there really is.

As she lay dying with cancer, Mary recited that wonderful phrase from Edith Pilaf "Je ne regret a rein." I have no regrets. And indeed she had none. We had known each other four short years but she had taught me so much. She would be the first to teach me that “time waits for no one” and “the past is past”. She was also the person who made the bridge from not regretting the past to learning how to harvest meaning from the experiences we did have. She helped me learn that appreciating the gifts of the present is far greater than any “thing” we give each other. As it says in the bible “You have sown so much but harvested so little”. “John” she told me close to the end, “don’t wait until you are like me to do your inner harvest.”

Even though time passes us by we can still learn what it leaves behind in the present. “Life” wrote T.S. Elliot “is the experience we pull meaning from”. My daughter Portia and her husband Scott and our little grandson Ashur have come to live with us. Whatever worries we had about living together have passed us by, we are having a wonderful time being a family. Every so often I am saddened by the possibility that they won’t live with us forever. And then? And then so what! Why am I sacrificing the now for a worry of the future? Now is the harvest… the blocks on the floor, the toys on the shelves, this is the time to harvest this now! Thanksgiving is only a reminder that we are on this planet for a very short time. What we learn to do with that time is up to us.