If someone were to ask us, “Has the best moment of your life arrived yet?” we may say that it will come very soon. But if we continue to live in the same way,it may never arrive. We have to transform this moment into the most wonderful moment, and we can do that by stopping – stopping running to the future, stopping worrying about the past, stopping accumulating so much. You are a free person; you are alive. Open your eyes and enjoy the sunshine, the beautiful sky, and the wonderful children all around you. Breathing in and out consciously helps you become your best – calm, fresh, solid, clear, and free, able to enjoy the present moment as the best moment of your life.
~Thich Nhat Hanh, Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh, 2011
It has been a while since my last post. I recently returned from my good friend Gurinder’s wedding to his lovely wife Lisa just outside Ottawa, Ontario. It was a wonderful celebration filled with family, joy and laughter. I feel very privileged to have been able to be a part of Gurinder and Lisa’s special day.
I also had the chance to catch up with my Auntie Teresa (my mom’s younger sister by 3 yrs) and her family (including my cousin John and his partner Nina) during my visit to Ottawa. It was a wonderful visit; my Auntie beamed as she gave me the tour of her (now very) mature flower garden which she and her husband have tended to with great care for as long as I can remember! She and my mom share a passion for flower gardens; isn’t it fitting that tending to the flower garden is one of the most mindful activities one can undertake? It is no surprise that when we arrived at the site for the wedding reception (in Strathmere, Ontario), both my aunt and I flocked to the beautiful flower garden near the historic Hotel Strathmere where I ended up spending the evening (it was lovely). It was also great to catch up with my cousin John and his partner Nina as we hardly get to see each other on a regular basis (them living and working in Ottawa, and me out west in Alberta). Here are just a few photos from my short but wonderful trip to Ottawa:
This evening, I went over to my big brother’s place to have dinner with him and his family. I haven’t seen my niece Maddie or twin nephews Edward or Thomas in what feels like a long, long time (even though it was Easter when I last saw them!). I had a lovely time catching up with my brother and his wife, as well as my sister in law’s mother Pat who I also have not seen in forever. Indeed, when I reflected on the time I had to spend with my brother’s family this evening, the opening words to this post by Thich Nhat Hanh resonated with me with great particularity. Open your eyes and enjoy the sunshine, the beautiful sky, and the wonderful children all around you.
My niece Maddie pulled my arm after dinner to tell me that she wanted to show me something. I said “What would you like to show Uncle Alex?” She said: “I want to show you my green binder with my kindergarten certificate.” I nearly broke down into tears as she flipped through page by page of her beautiful crafts and drawings she had completed throughout the year. There was one which she pointed to which had a simple message: “I am thankful for my Mom and Dad”.
In my twin nephews, I saw tonight a glimpse of my twin brother Mark and I as they moved about with an immense curiosity, each one looking out for the other; each one, ready to catch the other as they were about to fall off the backyard slide or into the bushes. I felt a tremendous sense of pride in the way my brother and sister-in-law have raised their three children in a world that can be harsh and brutal at times.
And then, there was the feeling of lineage, of bonding. Indeed, these moments with my brother and his family – these are the precious moments of mindfulness that bind us together in the past, the present, and the future as families (which has already arrived in this moment).
Tonight, my niece taught me that in one simple gesture, the stress, worries, doubts and fears we all carry in our hearts from time to time can disintegrate into the ether. And what is left is the pure love of a child. This is the essence of mindfulness.
Next week is my twin nephews’ birthday. By my count they are already turning two years old. I told my big brother I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
I wish you all abundant love, happiness and hope. Never forget that all of us have the light of mindfulness within us, always.