Musings by Chris and Photos by Jim
I am fast realizing that where one is has no bearing on one’s spiritual awareness. There is no preferred moment and time to be spiritual. It simply comes from within. It doesn’t matter if the sun shines, or the winds blow, or the temperatures drop, or the clouds blanket the sky; whether the streets are blessed with offerings as in Bali, or the cathedrals in Bretagne are kissed by streams of stained glass light, the external is just that. It is the internal environment of ones heart and soul that opens up the mind, body and spirit to light and love.
Jim makes a daily practice of holding my hand as we traverse through Brittany all the while thanking me for the moment. The blue skies above and the yellow, brown, and green patchwork of farmland fields wrap us in a shawl of everlasting memories, around our shoulders of time. Familiar faces greet us on our walks into town with a jolie ‘bonjour’. We comfortably navigate the roundabouts as we follow the signs pour ‘toute directions’ into our favourite villages. We frequent neighbourhood supermarkets and ‘boulangeries’ and are awe struck by the magnitude of historical discoveries in each quaint village and hamlet. We are living a rich and magnificent life of opportunity; an extravagant life of simplicity.
Even remarkable holiday moments are confronted by everyday occurrences. Perhaps it is all in a day’s work of an international housesitter. One of our sweet charges, an aging fragile dog of mixed breed had a stroke six months prior. She subsisted on medication and confusion but was a gentle old soul who eagerly wagged her tail at your touch. She still was eating and taking the occasional walk before her family left on a two-week trek through the Pyrennes. By the end of the first week, she no longer would eat, resisted her medication, and barely lapped from her water bowl. It was a struggle to simply make it out to the garden, which is where she finally laid to rest on a brilliantly sunny springtime Saturday afternoon. She was surrounded by the hosts‘ daughter, who now as a young woman has her own young infant to care for, a compassionate vet, and two unsuspecting though caring house-sitters.
There is nothing like the passage of life to bring one into the moment; to stir the spiritual and divine from within. We were filled with such sweet sorrow for this canine life; this gentle creature who had brought moments of joy and happiness to a larger family of humans. Her passing – a breath away from our own immortality.
The fast train of life smacked me broad side last week, taking me by the haunches and twisting me into an abrupt detour. I pulled my hamstrings on my left leg, completely and thoroughly enough to render me immobile. I now sport a ‘tres jolie’ cane as I hobble the streets of Lyon. My wandering days have been cut short and slowed down considerably as I quietly lust after those with youth and immediacy on their side. It’s not the kind of accident you envision when you create your dream vacation. It quickly has become a holiday for one – with Jim doing all the suitcase lugging, all the exploring up paths and down alleyways, and embracing a new culture with awe and inspiration. My daily routine of stretches, painkillers, and rests are interrupted by the occasional glimpse into nearby shops and cafes, where I carefully examine the simplest route to the ‘toilette’. Each moment is mapped out with care and concern about what I can and cannot manage. Spontaneity has left me in its wake. I’ve entered an aged perspective of mindful plodding.
The moment has peculiar and familiar ways of reminding us to be present. As Jim remarked after my fall, we are apt to have accidents when we aren’t being present. At that particular moment I was flashing forward and backward into minute possibilities that were needless at the time. As I lay flat on my back I knew there was no turning back. I was now projected into a new realm, a new awareness, a new perspective. One in which I could only be with, in its entirety. I’ve never been considered a patient person. Perhaps I am left to ponder what patience means. It certainly brings me back to my breath, which is really all each one of us has in the end.
And so our ‘bon journee’ continues. May each one of you seize the moment; be with it; share it with a friend or loved one; realize how precious it is; feel blessed to experience that moment in whatever manner it greets you. And remember, your moment is something no one else can take from you. It is yours, so peacefully and utterly yours alone. So be it.