Thursday, September 11, 2014

Moments of Being

My daughter Julie was a Virginia Woolf fan.
While she was working on her English degree at the University of Utah, 
she took a class on this great writer.
I visited her in Utah not long after she finished the class. 
While visiting her, I started reading an essay by Woolf, "A Sketch of The Past."
It was while I was reading this essay that I first encountered the concept of the term
"moments of being."
As I read the essay, I began to identify with Virginia Woolf's words at a deep level within my being.
I too had experienced those moments of being when I sensed an intense awareness of my surroundings. Such experience seemed to be imbued with the essence of the beauty in life.
These "flashes of awareness" are rare experiences. We spend most of our days in moments of what Woolf calls "moments of non-being."

Julie promised to discuss both Mrs. Dalloway, and To the Lighthouse with me.
In these books, I would have found examples of Virginia Woolf using characters within these novels to illustrate how they were receptive to moments of being. 
I did read Mrs. Dalloway
Julie and I attempted to discuss Mrs. Dalloway, but I was such a novice at reading Virginia Woolf that I think Julie did most of the discussing.
She promised to explain To the Lighthouse to me.
That never happened because I never got it read before Julie died.

I miss the talks I once had with my daughter.  She had such an intelligent, well-read insightful mind.

Since her death, there are times when I barely function.
My mind is clouded.
I lose all track of time.
I have been unable to comprehend the works of literature that I once was able to enjoy and critique.
I have struggled to attach to the world at large and live life as I once did.

I think all of this is a result of doing deep inner work in my soul to integrate the loss of my daughter into the fabric of my life.
One of the first promises I made myself after she died was that I would not live my life compartmentalized.
I promised myself that I would
integrate
the loss of my daughter and my grief over that loss
 into the very fabric of my life experience.

As I work through the pain of loss,
and as I deal with the health issues that have caused me to rock back on my heels,
I am grateful for those rich experiences when  I have "moments of being."
It is in those moments when I feel most alive to the beauty of this broken world in which we must live.
I sometimes capture the images of these moments with my camera.
I cannot always ascribe meaning to these moments.
They are just moments when I rejoice in the powerful beauty of connection
 between myself and my surroundings.

On the trip home from my mother's home last month, I was ill most of the time.
Graciously, my cousin drove for me.
We stopped at a rest stop along the way so I could use the restroom.
The name of the rest stop is "No Name."
I walked into the restroom fatigued, foggy, and feeling quite faint.
I walked out and saw these flowers off in the distance.
I nearly ran to the car for my camera.
I had to capture their beauty because they had brightened my day in a way that brought me cheer when I needed it most.


My cousin called out to me.  "Where are you?"  
"I'm over here."
"Where?"
"Here, getting pictures of the flowers."

Flowers of brightest yellow against blue skies don't last for long.
Moments like this when one drinks in summer during the autumn of life must be captured even if those moments are truly momentary. 

Cheerful, bright yellow roadside beauties in No Name lifted my spirits and brought new energy to my weary body.
My cousin and I took a few more moments to enjoy this spot by eating fresh peaches that we had purchased before we left Grand Junction.
Again, it was a moment of savoring the fruit of summer.

Today, exactly a month later after this experience, the snow will fly in the mountains.
No doubt these flowers are now dried and shriveled.  What is left of them will freeze tonight.
Such is life.
For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. 
Psalm 103: 14-16 KJV
The moment remains in my memory and the image is captured on my camera.

While some may think such fleeting moments make life seem fruitless and hopeless, they seem to bring me a sense of hope and meaning.
They speak to me of the importance of life.
They whisper to my soul with words of comfort and healing.

***********************

At sunset, I am fascinated by the grasses illuminated in the evening light.
I'd been pulled from my desk by the changing light outside my window.
Alive to the moment, 
I went seeking beauty.
I went seeking connections to the world in which I live.  

The moments may be as fleeting as the grass, but they serve to bring healing to my soul.
They bring meaning to life.
Life is a gift.
It is a treasure.
No matter how dark the night that follows moments of light such as these,
I rejoice in knowing that I have life and I have these moments of being.  
They are a gift.
They become visual reminders of my faith and hope for the future.

If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven;
how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Luke 12:28 KJV





30 comments:

Terra said...

Your post brought me up short when I read it. During dark times a hug and listening is all we can offer, so I send you a hug, and I listened to your post. Flowers can bring up our spirits as we see what God made for us.

Keicha Christiansen said...

Well, here I sit, weeping in public. 'Moments of being' what perfectly descriptive words. I understand perfectly what treasures those moments are. They're richer, more poignant and distinct to me since Julie died. I drink them in, acutely aware of their significance, fleeting beauty and joy. The joy they bring me is always tinged with a little bit of sadness. If only Julie could have held on to the memory of those precious moments of being and how they make life worth living.

Olga Hebert said...

Your pictures are a feast for the eyes and the soul and your words have touched me. Thank you for this beautiful post.

Linda Reeder said...

I have experienced those moments of being, though I have not used that term. They are such peaceful moments when ones' senses seem to all be completely in tune with our natural surroundings, moments when flowers glow in the sun.
It occurs to me that I have not experienced one of those moments for a while. Maybe I need to slow down in order to tune in.
This is such a lovely post, Sally. May the peace of that moment return to you often.

Vagabonde said...

Your photographs are full of color and life. I have had these “moments of being” and they bring total peace and exhilaration at the same time. They are rare.
I went through a period when I read all the Virginia Woolf books I could find, then I read her husband’s books too.
I am so pleased that your surgery was a success and that it should improve your quality of life – as we need to enjoy life as much as we can.

Betsy Adams said...

Oh Sally, I have not experienced anything like you have --so I don't know the deep level of sadness you feel... I just wish I was close by and could give you a big hug --and just listen to you keep Julie alive through your memories and stories... One thing I do know though is that if Julie could talk to you, she would want you to read again and comprehend--finding others who you can share this wonderful literature with... Julie would want you to keep on --keeping on.

BUT--I'm sure that some days it is hard to keep on moving forward.... SO--on those days, do what you did today, WRITE--write about Julie; share with others; keep her alive!!!!

I wish I truly knew how to help--but I will always keep you in my prayers and will be here for you if I can ever do anything to help...

Hugs and Prayers, my friend.
Betsy
P.S. Love those flowers and that blue sky.. Being out in nature is what makes me smile too.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Such a lovely, though deeply painful post, Sally. I think we are strengthened in those "moments of being" as we integrate the grief and pain of life's broken places into our ongoing lives. It's like learning to laugh between our pain to gather strength for the next pain. Taking time to appreciate and photograph those flowers in the middle of feeling so ill is a powerful example of integrating the wondrous and the excruciating moments of one's life.

#1Nana said...

I didn't have the name for those moments until I read it in your post, but I have experienced these moments of perfection.
When I read you words about dealing with Julie's death, I don't know how you deal with it. I understand that you have no choice but, I don't know that I could be as strong, or have the courage to re ach out to others as you have. You've got me blubbering once again. Sending you cyber hugs...

DJan said...

This post touched me very deeply, Sally. You are a very strong woman who has turned a devastating loss into growth and change for yourself. And for others who are privileged to read your posts, too. Love you.

Mare said...

You always inspire me as I read your posts. I had the occasion to be at a welcome back to 'being retired' at the district where I worked for 30 years. My good friend, Kate, was there and we always enjoy our moments together. [She has the beginnings of Alzheimer's, and is aware of it. She is forgetful, but fortunately has a devoted husband and daughter to be with her and help her. Her 3 boys live further away than her daughter.]
Anyway...Her oldest son, Paul, at the age of 30+ chose the same path as your Julie did, forever affecting Kate and family.
As I sat chatting with her, she was telling me about one of her sons and called him 'Paul' by mistake. She started to react to her error, and I said to her,
"Kate, that is your son Paul saying hello. He just jumped right into your stream of conversation to get your attention. It's a good thing."
She looked at me, and said, 'Thank you'.
So, my hope for you is that when Julie pops into your head or conversation, you can smile for a minute, and acknowledge her 'hello'. She is always beside you and with you. God bless you and everyone else experiencing the painful loss that you and my friend Kate have had to deal with.
Kate has told me that when she gets to heaven, "the first hug will be with Paul...and then I'm gonna really shake him!"
Hang in there.

Meryl Baer said...

Beautiful post. Moments of being, perfect description.

Meryl Baer said...

Beautiful post. Moments of being, perfect description.

Arkansas Patti said...

Such a beautiful post Sally and yes, those moments of being do make it all worth while. Perhaps when we sometimes live too long in dark places, they seem all the more brilliant when we are blessed with them.
That last photo is just stunning.

Lin Floyd said...

what a touching post and memorable to your daughter. may your loss be healed by her memory and the knowledge that she continues on...

Grandmother (Mary) said...

I love the concept of moments of being. They're a gift to give ourselves, a healing balm. Thank you.

rosaria williams said...

Sometimes time stands still and all the past is lived in the present, and all those we love are still around, and the preciousness of our consciousness drinks it all up. I thank the heavens, daily, for the gift of each child, each love, each moment of consciousness. We are but a flash of color, a verse in the big book of life. May you have many more such moments, and though painful, all that we are and all that we love can be together for an instant.

Jean said...

Love, love, love this post. It's a wonderful wake-up call for all of us. Thank you.

Jean said...

And isn't Mare's comment wonderful?!

Rose said...

I have also experienced these "moments of being," but in this busy world filled with so much sorrow, I think we don't stop and enjoy them often enough. I have not experienced the depth of grief that you have, Sally, but I do know how these moments can bring healing and happiness. I wish you more of these moments.

troutbirder said...

My last post identified such a moment which led me to fall off my bicycle. I simply forgot where I was and what I was doing in that moment. A lifelong love of nature and sharing such moments with my sons, one of whom was lost due to bi polar....

Barb said...

Life is so much richer when we can be open to these "moments of being." Our temperatures in the mountains are falling, Sally. Grasses and trees change by the hour. I just came home from my trail walk - a yellow aspen against the bright blue sky made me pause and gasp - a moment of being.

Jeanie said...

You found the moment, you snatched it, you saved it, you hold onto it. What a gift that beautiful field of flowers was to you, to lighten your heart, to help you move forward when strength was at is nadir.

I, too, have had moments of being and they are such a treasure. Sometimes they are among the most mundane of experiences -- touching the sleeping, purring Lizzie or seeing something so dazzling in nature that it takes your breath away -- not unlike the deer I saw recently during my autumn walk at the ditch. Those moments sustain us.

I admire how you have integrated your grief journey into your life rather than pack it away in a little corner. It seems healthier, to be sure, but it also helps others. Yet it is a brave thing to do.

I sure wish Julie could have explained Mrs. Dalloway to me because I hated that book. It seemed to go on and on forever! But the movie was rather nice.

So glad you are feeling better, my friend. That makes me smile.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

Oh, my. This post, filled with such grief, has deeply touched me. I say grief, but also such hope for you to find a way to step forward. Perhaps to remain upright. The moments that you seek to get through. I hope writing this piece has brought you comfort for the passion that explodes from your words is powerful. I'll be thinking of you long past leaving your blog. Thank you for a wonderful moment.

Sandi said...

I love this post, Sally, on so many levels. You have me thinking about those "Moments of being" and your words remind me to be more mindful. I also find those moments most often outdoors, in the flowers, the sunsets and sunrises I am surprised by. Thank you for your reminder to "be". Big cyber hugs until we see each other in October! I am so looking forward to "being" with each other again!

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Sally this post touched me because I agree that we must drink in those rare but extremely special moments that remind us to hope and keep moving forward because it has a purpose and a meaning. I loved the photos you selected for this. Perfect blend of words, quotes and pics to remind us all to BE. Thank you.
Hope the recovery is now complete after you heart procedure .

Linda Myers said...

Living in the present. Such a gift, when I can do it.

Friko said...

I may be late here but I sincerely appreciate your beautiful words.

Kay said...

This is such a beautiful, heartfelt post, Sally. I feel your pain, but I can also feel your hope and heart reaching for the sun like the flowers. That 2nd photo of the single clear daisy amidst the field of yellow is strikingly beautiful.

Deb Shucka said...

One of the things I love best about you is your ability to be grateful and to see the miracles in everyday life. I love this post, and its mix of pain and awe. I felt every word of it, have experienced so much of it in my own life. I'm so grateful we're sharing a path, and that I get to see you really soon!!!

Maggie May said...

Yes...... those *moments of being* are so beautiful. I think our modern life somehow or other crushes them out. They are a true gift from God. I also have had moments of profound peace at various stages of my life that I wish I could conjure up at will.......... but I can't.

The thing that strikes me most in your photos of the yellow flowers are the contrast of the beautiful blue sky behind them that we rarely experience here.
The sunset one is similarly beautiful. I think these experiences make me feel part of the universe but remind me I am just a tiny dot in it.
Thank you for sharing the process of your loss with us. It is very precious.
Maggie x

Nuts in May