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
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."
"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