Saturday, February 19, 2011

Precious Moments

“This is a precious time.” My Mom would say emphatically, looking lovingly at we three children at Christmas, a moment around the dinner table or during a family hug. Her eyes were shining and open.
We would gather in a family huddle, all five of us, and after seeing “The Dark Crystal”
We would all make a low chanting sort of “Ahhhhhhhh…” a communion of sorts.
You might have to see the Dark Crystal to really get it, but I’ll explain. There is a moment when all the old, scraggly, good guy creatures raise their heavy heads up and chant to connect with each other. No matter where there are, they connect, they are stronger and they are separate, but one.
My mother made a point to let us know daily that we were loved, that our lives are precious and that being together is the best. Saying I love you was second nature to her. We greeted and parted with hugs and “love you’s” and “see ya’s”...we blinked the lights at the door repeatedly as she departed honking the horn on the way down the rocky driveway. We waved and blinked until she was well out of sight. She rubbed our backs and feet, cradled our heads when we cried and watched us, amazed as we played Barbie’s. My mother’s entire being was, and still is, precious, valuable, beautiful and gleaming with love.

My father didn’t say that moments were precious. He didn’t look at us vulnerably or even very "lovingly" usually, he was working…but he did initiate the “Ahhhhhh..” moment many times. He did pat my head before sleep sometimes, his huge rough, calloused hand weighed down on my forehead and eyes, saying. “I’m here, you are safe. Go to sleep.” He did read to us occasionally, his deep vice rumbling as he read with energy and emotion the dramatic bank robberies of “O’Henry”or exciting escape scenes of “The Mouse and the Motorcycle”. Those were precious moments. He didn’t do that often. He often worked until dark. After dinner he worked on crunching numbers for the summer business, stuffing envelopes as mailers to get business or discussed boring adult matters like taxes or student loans with my Mom while she made lunches. He worked a lot. Providing for us. For him to take time to read us a story or pat our heads before sleep was rare and precious.

I think about these precious moments often as a parent. I may not say it the way they said it or do what they did, but there is creation and love in the new ways.
We hold hands before every dinner now, and each take a moment to look each other in the eyes (thank you to my Bulgarian house mates in NYC who taught me the proper way to cheers is to look each person in the eyes as you clink glasses.) That moment of connection acknowledges our separateness and togetherness as a whole. We say our dinner prayer which we borrowed from our son’s preschool five years ago… “God is great, God is good, and we thank you for our food. Amen.” Being grateful together is precious.

Between dinner and bedtime is precious time with Daddy. Sometimes they pig pile, tickle and wrestle on the big bed. Sometimes we talk a family walk in our neighborhood with flashlights in the winter or barefoot in the summer, soaking up the last bit of soft evening sun before bed. Laughing together and being outside in nature together is precious.
I hum a lullabye to them most nights, soft, off key notes soften the darkness and settle the boy energy like a splendid sigh. I make up words thanking God for nature, our home, Nana, Papa, Grandma and Grandad, Aunts and Uncles, cousins, teachers and friends by name. Feeling blessed with abundance of community is precious.
In a recent trip back east to see my family of origin, I had alone time with each person and I was very aware that that moment was a very precious time. Dancing with my niece, clapping for my mother's art, indulging on dessert with my father, celebrating my brother's and fiancées engagement, meeting their friends and being all together, was deeply precious.

In this moment I am present to the preciousness doesn’t come from the doing…the walking, singing, dancing, clapping or the tickling…it comes from who we are being in that moment. Looking into each other’s eyes, being present, being free, being peace, being fully self expressed, being love. It’s what Buddhist monks chant or meditate on for years to obtain, what Christians pray for hours to be, it’s available to all of us in a moment. There is no “someday” I’ll be enlightened, no “thing” to do to get there, no confession or redemption that will save us and THEN have us be blessed or in God’s favor. Many might disagree. There is an order to things, traditional, just the way things ARE they might say. I don’t disagree; I just come from another place. Empowerment now. We all have access to enlightenment and heaven on earth right now, in this moment, if we just get present to how precious it is, exactly the way it is.

Zen Honeycutt

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