I had just come home running some errands that included a trip to the gym for a short but very enlivening workout, had put away the groceries, threw the day’s mail on the usual spot amidst the organized clutter that covered my desk, and sat down, prepared to do some work on the computer when my friend Chris appeared. Chris is a brother by a different set of parents, and I welcomed him. He also is our general contractor, supervising and doing much of the remodeling work on my house. He was stopping by to discuss some of the work on the house, but that idea was soon to be usurped by an invitation from nature.
This was around 4:30 in the afternoon. We chatted a bit in my office, then headed down the hallway and toward the living room to continue our conversation. The living room opens to a wonderful view of the Pacific Ocean through the three sets of sliding glass doors. We stopped in our tracks when we looked to the horizon and saw the sun setting over the ocean.
The sky was ablaze.
The sun’s brilliant gaze upon the ocean was disrupted and muted here and there by the panorama of clouds that stretched across the sky. The amber light seeped through the jumbled web of hundreds of swollen billowy veils. Chris and I were completely seduced by this slow dance of light and color, and although we each had our agendas, Nature had superimposed her glory on them and summoned us to pause in our busy-ness. So we did.
Now I don’t know about you, but in order for me to assess and adjust my strategy when my plans are interrupted it often takes some fussing and contemplation to change direction. Perhaps it’s a Capricorn trait; perhaps it has something to do with being male. Regardless, in this particular instance there was no hesitation at all in saying to Chris, “Let’s sit out on the balcony and just enjoy the sunset.” And Chris, again someone who can be very directed and on task, said, “Sure!”
What a concept—to actually pause and appreciate this simple and rapturous beauty that was displayed before us.
So we went outside on the balcony, sat down, put our feet up, breathed, and took it all in. Seagulls grazed the glassy sheen of sea, occasionally doing grand pirouettes between sky and water. Nearby in the tree was Crow, calling to us, insisting that we appreciate the magic of these moments. The effervescent froth of each persistent and determined wave glistened with the glow of the blossoming radiance before us. I commented to Chris that I could almost hear a heavenly choir singing.
The orchestral rhythm of the waves crashing was interrupted by the sound of the telephone ringing. I knew it was my wife calling to tell me she was on her way home, so I ran inside to pick up the phone and couldn’t wait to tell her about the scenery. I did my best to describe in a word picture the magnificent vista unfolding before us, but in my enthusiasm I mainly kept repeating words like, “wow,” “amazing,” and “you should see this!” I told her I would take some photos, knowing that photos would never be close to the actual experience, but they would have to suffice. Once we finished our conversation I returned my attention to the sunset, snapping just a few pictures here and there, always relaxing back into a visual meditation with only the sounds of the waves punctuating the perfect silence.
Well, actually, every so often Chris or I would make a comment, but much like my comments to my wife, they weren’t very succinct and far from descriptive of the actual experience. Funny how when we try to put words to something like this, in doing so we automatically move into the world of duality, stepping at least a shade or two from the experience itself. But we do the best we can with words.
I was so grateful for this simple yet wondrous opportunity—just the sunset, slight breeze, the companionship of my good friend, and the love of my life on her way home. I was glad that I had the good sense to so swiftly adjust my “plans,” and enjoy these precious moments. At the same time I was thinking how often it is that we neglect to pause and appreciate God and Nature’s wonders. Reminds me of a short piece I came across a while back, called Whispers:
The man whispered, “God, speak to me” and a meadowlark sang.
But, the man did not hear.
So the man yelled, “God, speak to me” and the thunder rolled across the sky.
But, the man did not listen.
The man looked around and said, “God let me see you.”
And a star shined brightly.
But the man did not see.
And, the man shouted, “God show me a miracle.”
And, a life was born.
But, the man did not notice.
So, the man cried out in despair, “Touch me God, and let me know you’re here,” whereupon God reached down and touched the man.
But, the man brushed the butterfly away and walked on.
Sad, isn’t it, when we consider those missed opportunities?
Yet how joyous to know that they are always present, always available to us, sometimes just under the radar of our awareness. At times they show up with a shout, like this sunset, yet so many, many more that call us with a whisper. What blessings and miracles life holds each and every day, each and every moment, when we’re willing to pause, pay attention, notice, and feel, rather than being consumed in our busy-ness and false appraisal of what’s important.
So today, just for one full day, listen to the whispers, pause, and breath in with gratitude whatever miracles are before you.