Yesterday was one of those days. I woke up and was already feeling alive. I went outside to get a cup of coffee and the newspaper and could tell the weather was going to be splendid. It was one of those early autumn days…cool in the morning, but you knew as the day wore on, it would become pleasantly warm. It was a beautiful day. And the best part was that I had an awareness of this and was thankful.
I am afraid there have been many beautiful days and I was so unaware that I missed it. I know there have been many beautiful days and I was upset and could not be thankful. I am sure there have been countless beautiful days and I was so busy that I completely missed the opportunity to notice it and to be thankful.
Yesterday was one of those days. I was busy, but I was able to be aware and to give thanks. It was a beautiful day and I took steps to enjoy it. Given my schedule, I was able to be outside on numerous occasions. I know that everyone does not have the kind of situation I have. I am fortunate that there are occasions when I have to go to some other part of my college campus. Many people jump in the car and zoom to their destination. They have little awareness of the day. Unless it is raining or snowing, they are so quick from car to building, little impression is made on them.
I have rushed like this and, I am sure, will do it again and again. Often I am very efficient; I get from place to place very fast…and very unaware. Did I notice the day? Hardly! Did I give thanks? For what? I noticed nothing! That’s my life…too often.
But yesterday I noticed. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining. The breeze was soft and gentle. It was a day to moderate the frenzy of schedule. It afforded the chance to pause and not simply press on. So what does one do when pausing?
The flip answer is “anything you want to do!” I don’t think the trick is to figure out what to do if you pause during your day. Actually, I think there are some pretty natural instincts that take over. The trick is to pause. Often folks are so bad at this, it seems nearly impossible to pause. The pause can be so unusual in our lives that it seems abnormal. Many of us pause only because we are forced to do so by illness or some other malady infringing on our otherwise busy, sometimes frenzied, lives. The trick is to learn to pause and, then, actually to do it.
Yesterday was a beautiful day and I paused often enough to know it was beautiful and to enjoy the beauty. Two or three times I seized the option to walk somewhere. If I were in a monastery, I would say it was a walking meditation. But in a way, that is exactly what it was yesterday as I ambled meditatively through the beauty of the day. Was I thinking directly of God and meditating on God’s goodness? The answer is no.
My meditation was more receptive than active. As I moved along, I opened myself to the surrounding beauty. Instead of simply moving along---aiming to get from one place to the next---I allowed myself to be moved along. That is a subtle difference, but it is a significant difference. I did not create the beauty of the day. It was gift and was giving me the gift. I had to be aware and to be receptive.
The details of the beauty are not really important. Beauty comes in many forms: light, color, texture, etc. The trick is to be aware of the beauty, to participate in the beautiful and to be thankful for the whole experience. Perhaps I have uncovered the sequence of engaging the beautiful day.
The initial step is to be aware. I don’t know how anyone can proceed unless she or he is aware. Open your eyes, prick your ears---sensitize yourself to your self and your surroundings. I am confident beauty is everywhere. It is not just a weather thing!
Secondly, participate in the beautiful. There are a zillion ways of participating. All your senses can be participatory: see, smell, feel, hear, taste. To participate in beauty is to engage it and to involve yourself in it. Maybe through the process, you too can become beautiful.
And finally, take the opportunity to be thankful. Remember that beauty is a gift. Gifts are given, but they have to be received. I hate to think about how many gifts were never really gifts to me because I did not receive them. Yesterday was a beautiful day, but I could have rushed through it unaware, unreceptive, and unthankful. In that sense I would have sworn that yesterday was not a beautiful day!
Given my spirituality, I am willing to posit that every day can be beautiful. Beauty does not depend on sunshine, temperature, etc. They may make it easier to discern beauty. But beauty is a daily possibility---in the day and in the people.
Lord, grant me the capacity to live the beauty of this day.