Gratitude for the Beauty of the Present Moment

I had wanted to go out on the Potomac River yesterday with Grace, my kayak, but it was too cold and very blustery, almost like a fall day. So instead, I drove over to Lake Thoreau in Reston this afternoon, and joined some dear friends for a delightful afternoon kayaking, a stone's throw from their new townhouse. It was the first time my friends went out in the new kayaks they had bought, and it was also the first time Grace and I had ever put in anywhere else.

My friends and I stayed on the water until a little after 6 PM. Less than an hour later, I was driving home, recalling the wonderful article I had read just this morning by Eckhart Tolle, in the 10th anniversary edition of Oprah Magazine.

Curiously, I received this magazine in the mail yesterday. It has no address label on it, and it did not look like one had originally been attached to it. I had subscribed to this magazine 10 years ago when it was first published, but that was years ago. So I was puzzled to find it in my mailbox. However, I know, there are no accidents...

This morning I opened the magazine, and read the article "The Beauty of the Today." As I drank in the Tolle's words, I realized they were a timely salve for my soul that had been re-living some old pains and hurts. Here is an excerpt from this article:

"There is a fine balance between honoring the past and losing yourself in it...You can acknowledge and learn from mistakes and then move on and refocus on the now. It is called forgiving yourself. Or you can carry a burden of guilt for many years...Remember events...or people from the past...accepting...the impermanence of all things. Or you may wallow in nostalgia and see the past as more precious than the present.

Be vigilant, so that you don't allow a burden or negative past to accumulate in your mind, in the form of guilt, regret...anger, and so on. Forgiveness happens naturally as soon as you realize that the past cannot prevail against the power of Presence.

The future, too, needs to honored, without making it more important in your mind than the present...The power for creating a better future is contained in the present moment. You create a good future by creating a good present...by recognizing the goodness that is already inherent in the present moment, even in the midst of challenges. Discontent, blaming, complaining, self-pity cannot serve as as a foundation for a good future, no matter how much effort you make.

Where to find that goodness when...things seem to fall apart? In the things we tend to overlook: feeling the gentle breeze on your skin, the sunlight filtering through the clouds, the sound of the rain, the wagging tail of a dog...You notice the in and out flow of your breath, the feeling of aliveness inside your body. And the stillness behind it all, which is deep within you. It is through gratitude for the present moment that the spiritual dimension of life opens up."

So, as I paddled in the late afternoon, I allowed gratitude to well up in my heart, anchoring me to the present moment. I gave thanks for the friends I have had, especially those that have endured storms and bad times. I gave thanks for my breath, for the blue sky overhead. I sent forth blessings and thanks - and then marveled at how - at least in the present moment - they dissolved all the rest.

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