“Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.” – Eckhart Tolle
It’s mulberry season at my house. These elongated fruits drop like rain on my front patio. I step on them and track them everywhere—crimson stains on the floors, the carpets, the bathmats, any place my shoes hit the ground.
For a few weeks each spring we create a ritual, like monks sweeping the abbey. We station the leaf blower near the patio and several times each day we blow the ripened fruit off the stones into the flowerbeds.
At first it feels annoying, a never-ending chore that steals part of the day, time I could spend doing what I love. But if I walk away from this chore, things get messy. Fast!
So I surrender to it.
This year’s ritual began just a few days before Saturday, April 25, 2015, the day an earthquake of great magnitude hit Nepal. The death toll now exceeds 4,000 and continues to rise. Aftershocks create more damage. The people of Nepal need help; yet I live on the other side of the globe.
I think about their pain, their loss, what lies in their wake, the insurmountable rubble, and their unspeakable grief. However, there is little I can do to help except offer my prayers and donate to a reliable charity. I have, and encourage you to also.
Times like these create an emotional paradox and we are caught between the desire to do something and the reality that there is nothing we can do. On 9/11 I sent my children off to school, then built a horse corral while waiting for my husband to return home from his job as an airline pilot. The Oklahoma City bombing occurred in my home state and left 168 people dead. Yet, on that day I stood in a classroom teaching 7th graders how to write a 5-paragraph essay.
Many spiritual teachers remind us to live in the present and not miss out on our lives. Eckhart Tolle’s message is easy to comprehend, yet difficult to live by: Now, live Now. Now is all you have.
I try hard to do this. But I also experience moments, extended or brief, when I feel out of body, when I worry, fret, and expect more from myself than I am truly capable of giving. Like now, today, day three for the Nepalese.
As I move away from my desk and into the morning light, I will step outside to feed the horses. I will walk onto the patio, squish a few mulberries and pick up the leaf blower. I will keep my spring ritual and offer prayers for Nepal, for the aid workers, for all of us. I will continue this diligence until the mulberry fruits have finished their harvest, until my heart feels satisfied that I have done enough.
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