After my daughter’s visit to her obstetrician, I hurried over to see the pictures from the sonogram of my first grandchild. As she and her husband, John, told me about the wonder of hearing the baby’s heartbeat, I exclaimed, “Oh! You ought to have recorded it.”
“I should have thought of that!” John responded. “But I was totally caught up in the moment.”
And that, as I assured him, was perfectly okay. In fact, it was exactly as it ought to be.
There have been too few times in my life when I was totally “in” the moment, totally present for exactly what was happening, but I treasure those memories. One of those moments was the day that my own daughter was born. In that less-empathetic era, the nurses attendant at her birth began rushing through their own procedures without first handing my newly-born daughter to me. I could see my child on a gurney to my side, but could not touch her until her father, saying, “I think Mommy wants to touch her baby!” yanked my own gurney over that precious extra inch so that I could reach her. Never, never in my lifetime will I forget that moment–electrifying, incredible, impossible–of touching just the tip of my finger to the tiny body of my newborn daughter. Never, never more than in that moment have I felt completely cognizant of what was happening, yet, conversely, more totally part of the universe, and of the heart of God.
And that is what “being in the moment” does for us. It reconciles our humanness with our divine being. For one incredible second, we are at one with all that we truly are. We are, for that moment, not merely spiritual beings having a human experience: we are expanded, total, whole.
I would like to say that I have had other such moments, too numerous to count, in the passage of 64 years walking this planet. I would like to say that, but I can’t. Like the fictional inhabitants of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, few of us truly understand the value of life while we are living it. Those rare moments of communion with all that life is are infrequent, at best. But the fleeting seconds of recognition should be recalled and celebrated.
I’m truly glad that my son-in-law was so caught up in the moment of first hearing his child’s heartbeat that he forgot to record it. No recording could ever take the place of his wonder and awe at that moment.
Sometimes, though, it is something far more insignificant and seemingly less earth-shattering that, for one brief second, brings us to recognition of the miracle of life. I recall one such moment as an adolescent, when, having gone for a walk in the cool weather of late fall, I arrived back home just as the sun began to set. The sky was a maze of varied electric and shining colors. I stood transfixed in wonder at the beauty of it, all awareness of my surroundings forgotten, elated and exalted. For just that one, mere second, I found myself totally at peace; completely at one with the world.
Also while still young, I used to lie on the cool grass, wet with dew, on late summer nights, and stare upward at the stars lighting the sky. That sense of peace, of oneness, totally enveloped me, as I lay there on the ground, running my hands over the dew-wet grass and gazing at the heavens, feeling the inescapable, undeniable knowledge that, “I came from there.”
In fact, I found a faint memory of those nights triggered in me one dark morning in early spring as I waited for my bus. I looked down at the dewy grass next to the sidewalk, seeing the crystalline sparkle of every jewel-like dewdrop sparkling beneath the rising sun. I reached down to the glimmering beauty, glittering there in the crepuscular light of the barely-begun morning, and knelt to run my fingertips over the blades of grass. Feeling the cold, wet dew upon my fingers, I completely lost track of time and place until the bus pulled up, startling me out of my concentration.
I gathered up my purse and boarded, slipping my fare into the waiting maw of the cash box, and my regular driver asked me why I had been kneeling. Had I dropped something there on the grass? Did I need to go back and look for it?
“No,” I told him, smiling. “I was just admiring the beauty of the dewdrops there on the grass.”
He shook his head at me and started up the bus.
“You,” he said, rolling his eyes, “really need a vacation.”
Happy Birthday, Amanda Desireé.