Caught Unawares

I once found myself in a paradise, basking in nature with several nourishing friends. Our main goals were to relax, as much as possible, and to appreciate absolutely everything. After a day or so, all occurring – from food and conversation to the flowers and giant stars – felt to glow, to exude a feeling of magic.

Most vacations have a little of this effect; one begins to believe that if they could just stay in that spot, all of life would be ideal. Separated from daily cares and worries, lingering out of context, humans begin to come alive again.

When we relax and open, the rest of phenomena does too.

Nova Scotia

During the trip, we were led on a pitch-black night hike through ancient forest, given time to deeply listen at a stream, learned facets of “forest practice” such as aimless wandering and laying down like a rotting log, and simply basked in one anothers’ easy company.

But, a moment I hardly noticed at the time has continually come to mind since then, a short introduction.

Although they would be mostly otherwise engaged during our stay, one of the caretakers sat down and met my eyes directly, simply saying that it was a pleasure to meet.  Weeks later however, while describing the retreat to a friend, I found myself remarking on how strikingly beautiful this woman was… how she seemed to sparkle.

So much had happened there, but her presence was at the forefront somehow.

I dreamed I’d gotten lost and had come upon a large house where, just as I reached to knock on a door, this woman appeared. She was in scuba gear, smiling, having returned from deep water treasure diving.

A few years later I had the chance to return, and to see more of her whole life–cultivating flowers, vegetables, people–basically full time appreciative being. Strangely, she was ordinary.  She was still beautiful and spiritually vivid, alert, but also quite human.

It was like I’d before encountered an alive new reality in the middle of a usual daydream; my understanding had been turned inside out like a pocket, revealing subtle dimensions.

When people say that life can change in an instant, they are usually talking about sudden dramatic events we couldn’t have foreseen… tragedies or strokes of luck that can change one’s lot in life.  But there are transformative, ‘holy instants’ happening all the time.

Memory doesn’t always hold them.


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