I am attending a writer's (virtual) retreat this weekend and this post is my response to a prompt about a moment that changed me; that shifted my perspective. Perhaps some family members will remember the details differently, and that's ok. This is how I recall the event from my perspective. :)
A moment. Moments are hard to pin down. They get shoved out into the past a second after they arrive; that’s what moments do. Except when they are different.
I’m talking about a moment that seems to transcend time and space. These special moments are limited; they are few, and they impress themselves deep into our core. The soul knows when true quiet has been found.
One such a moment, I found that quiet. Oh, it was not the only time, just the one that comes to mind tonight.
The setting was Chinatown, Chicago. Evening, and the walking had been long and tiring. When I say walking I mean the forever kind where your feet are screaming at you and you aren’t nearly there yet. Our party had crammed two strollers, accompanying diaper bags, four adults and four small children through the tight spaces of the metra, outside of the train station, along the streets to the boat launch. We had ferried down the river, water spray fascinating the children; worried moms making sure they didn’t get even reasonably near a place to fall from. Smiles, photos, incessant chatter: it was all glorious but oh so very tiring.
We landed at a park outside of the main hub and had to walk a few more blocks. The walking would seriously never end. My feet felt like they were wearing a pair of cleats outside in. Still, when one is hosting an amazing trip to Chicago, one does not complain- much. And even if one does, the sound is drowned by the cries of hunger from tiny folk.
In search of sustenance, we finally found a place to get smoothies. It was a start; something to hold us over until we decided which place was authentic enough for dinner. The strollers stopped, and I parked myself on the front seat of the one my kids had just exited. Closing my eyes, I thought of the pain, the exhaustion, the longing for nourishment. My tortured feet clamored for all the attention. I couldn’t let the feet win. I had to dig for some place to exist without pain.
Then, I reached deeper, instinctively searching for a center. I knew I had to find a spot away, completely away, from the outside world. And reaching for it was all that the quiet was waiting for; it came and found me like water finds the roots of a tree. Filling me, a full, flooding feeling, washing all over from within to without. I had paused only a moment; I was silent and still only long enough for my intuitive sister to notice and wonder.
She asked me if I was ok. How could I tell her I felt like a whole new person? The pain erased, the hunger evaded, the exhaustion shattered into renewed energy.
I knew at that moment, that I would learn to meditate. That I had found “center” and it could be found again. And that it would become a practice I not only loved, but also very much needed and craved. To be still, to be quiet, to reach and to wait