A Summer Love Story
I’ve been busy planning for the start of a new school year for my two teens which has triggered my forward thinking brain to start the grief spin. Summer is nearly over I’ve caught myself groaning at least a few (20-30) times the past couple weeks. I follow this up with I don’t know where it’s gone.
There it is, nature teaching me, reminding me to pay attention to life’s ebbs and flows. About the certainty that ebb and flow are ever present, ever constant. So why am I surprised, but more important, why do I let this desire to savor deeply the last weeks of this lovely season turn me toward an attitude of impending doom for what’s next? How I try just staying right here a moment.
Practicing presence is deeply essential for me all year for various reasons. Right now, I’m practicing presence in order to savor the fleeting sweetness that is literally and figuratively summer to me. And I’m remembering this likely won’t mean I get to spend a whole luxurious day or week or month with no commitments, obligations, or service requiring my attention. Yet, even short moments of savoring can feel like sabbath if I’m paying deep attention, delighting in the celebration of living life in the moment, and finding contentment in the gratitude I cultivate.
There’s a practice in yoga that is one of the main tenets called Santosha, or contentment, that comes with the deep presence with and gratitude for the our life. So I’m squaring my shoulder and sitting or standing in the center of my life as much as possible. This looks like a daily morning practice on my back porch deck, with coffee, my cats, Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights, my journal, and my phone timer. I’m starting my days with a shorter “10 minutes of presence” meditation practice in which I start with a few centering breaths, then notice each of my senses individually—what do I hear? what do I smell? what can I touch or feel? what do I see? what do I taste? I start with my eyes closed and eventually open them into the small square of life around me. There’s no rush. I linger on each sense and try to take in just the one at a time. Then I end with gratitude before reading a delight essay, and then writing my own daily delight.
The whole practice feels so summery and lovely, I might include it in my daily writing practice as a delight!
I love what author and psychologist Nicole Zasowski says on this: “Beauty connects us to God’s abundance. What scene gives you pause? What feelings steals your breath? What words make you weep in wonder? What details bring you delight? Your answers are not unnecessary or unimportant.”
I’ve been finding that my answers are helping me to celebrate, and celebration is an essential component to daily presence and gratitude for and with life. What does this do to change the state of the world? It makes a difference in how I show up daily, and the ripple effect of that is enough of an answer.
Today, on the day after my daughter’s 16th birthday, I sat with a list of delights from the day, but the one I recorded was of her total joy when I walked through the door with a foil helium dragonfly balloon. I knew as soon as I saw it that she’d love it, but the cost ($15) gave me pause. When I came through the door with the firefly and three other balloons, Ava grabbed the firefly and exclaimed, “Oh, I love him! I’ll name him Ravioli!” And because I’m training myself to pause and be delighted, I realized that I’d just received a once in a lifetime moment—that my Ava will never again turn 16 and how many more times will I get to celebrate her growing into a lovely woman and simultaneously squeal with delight like a little girl? I do not know, but I’ll remember be present for that one. It was worth every penny.
Ok, friends, try it. Square your shoulders, firm up your feet, become aware of your breath, and let yourself be enchanted. Consider practicing just 10 minutes of presence for the rest of the summer. Maybe during that space, you’ll become aware of something truly delightful. And in that space—summer gets a little longer and more restful.
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I like to practice this outside, which is why it’s a perfect summer morning practice to help me savor the way each of my senses takes in this precious time. I usually bring with me a cup of coffee or tea or perhaps even a sliced peach or other summer fruit, my phone for keeping time, then I sit somewhere that I can be both comfortable and alert. I start by closing my eyes and centering, but if closing your eyes isn’t comfortable, try lowering your gaze downward to start. Then, one by one, I welcome my senses. Friends, with a paid subscription, you’ll find a 10 minutes of presence guided meditation by clicking here.