A Lesson in Being Present
Lila is an elderly woman with silver hair who I met recently at a Tibetan Buddhist center in my area. A tall, willowy woman, she has piercing, but kind, blue eyes. Despite her age, she is very upright and spry, while her husband, Greg, is doubled over with arthritis. He, too, has very kind eyes, and his have a sparkle. I suspect they are both in their early 80s.
Bearing rice dishes and dals, this lovely couple devote hours of their time tending to the needs of the two sweet-hearted resident Lamas and the center. Lila is especially welcoming to novices like me, helping with some of the intricacies of Tibetan Buddhist practice. I have felt fully under her wing as I tentatively step into some of the practices, and it has felt like a good wing to be under.
It was in this capacity, being tutored, that found me pulling up behind Lila and Greg’s car this morning, while she ran into the center to pick up a few things before leading the way to a Fire Puja offered by a bigger center nearby. I stepped out of my car to say hi to Greg, leaving it running in the cold because I knew she would only be a few minutes.
Truthfully, I wasn’t even thinking that I had left my car running until I realized she had turned hers off. She was present enough with her intention to conserve energy and gas that she thought to turn off her car. I was not, even though I, too, dearly want to conserve energy. My lack of attention to my best intention surprised me. I wasn’t present enough in the moment.
How well Lila’s long and devoted Tibetan Buddhist practice has benefited the planet by helping her be so present.