A Simple Question

If I were called upon to state in a few words the essence of everything I was trying to say both as a novelist and as a preacher, it would be something like this:  Listen to your life.  See it for the fathomless mystery that it is.  In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness:  touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis, all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” Frederick Buechner

On the way to the Loyola parking garage, a colleague asked me, “What was the best moment of your day?”  The question took me by surprise; instinctively I went into “work” mode.  Surely, the best moment of my day was clearing all my emails, but maybe it was meeting with the Student Affairs directors to ideate about new ways of having our meetings, or was it surprising an early bird student in the Starbucks line with free coffee? Indeed, all these moments were satisfying; how could I identify just one that was the best?

The word “best” implies superiority over simply other good moments.  Even though I felt a bit paralyzed in my attempt at an answer, her simple question highlighted the importance of mindfulness.  Each moment has the potential to be the “best” if we give our full attention to it.  We so rarely stay “in the moment.”  We are eager to get on to the next best thing that captures our attention and imagination.  Staying in the moment requires us to pay attention to the “here and now,” rather than to simply respond to an event or get lost in the noise around us.

Jon Kabat-Zinn writes about mindfulness and reminds us “in the Asian languages, the word for mind and the word for heart are the same word.  So when we hear the word mindfulness, we have to inwardly also hear heart fullness in order to grasp it as a concept, and especially as a way of being.”  What would our lives be like if in this new year we became both more mindful and held our hearts full?