Brief Moments

by Elizabeth deGraw Renna

“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”                     Eddie Cantor American comedian-singer (1892 – 1964)

I saw this quote in my local newspaper recently and it feels like a fit for the introduction to this short collection of brief moments in time, recently experienced.

Geese at Sunset

I was headed home one fall evening at about 5:30 p.m. Driving west I could see that the sun had already set but the sky was still glowing a dusty peach and muted yellow at the horizon, with blue shades further up, getting darker the further east I looked. There was also a sliver of moon in the southwestern sky. Something caught my eye as I drove and looking up more closely I realized that a small V-shaped flock of geese was flying south, in silhouette against the yellow and peach backdrop. My first thought was one of appreciation at the sight. The geese were far enough away that I couldn’t really see individual birds or wings flapping, just the unmistakable formation that geese adopt when they fly in groups. My second thought was to wonder, with some concern, “Do they fly at night, in the dark?” I didn’t know the answer but in that moment I also just pondered the interdependent and cooperative nature of geese, how they take turns in the lead, where the most effort is required and the flying is the hardest. How amazing to be a part of a group like that and to be flying in the almost-dark but to not be alone in the doing of it.

Trees at Sunrise

The trees are bare now, with the lacy intricacy of their branches showing, each tree’s unique shape and skeleton revealed. I sometimes see and almost feel movement in the upward curves and reach of a tree’s many branches. And I love seeing trees at either sunrise or sunset when they become silhouetted against a glowing but gradually darkening sky. It’s easy to become distracted in those moments if I am driving.

Warming up my tea

I brew my morning tea the night before and then warm it up in a pan on my stove. Usually I am multitasking in the mornings, doing at least one other thing to prepare for my day while my tea warms up. But I have recently discovered that my morning mix develops puddles of foam on the surface as the tea warms up. And the best discovery, the one that reminds me to pause and just focus for a moment, is that the warming tea begins to swirl in small vortexes or whirlpools, in several parts of the pan. Amazing! I have read that water’s natural tendency is to move into spirals, vortexes, or whirlpools and that by doing so it is more energized than if forced through a straight pipe or other channel. The foam on the top of my tea begins to create ever-changing designs and sometimes shapes emerge that resemble recognizable objects, like a Mandala or a person’s body, just for a moment. It’s like watching the clouds and imagining the shapes that you can see in them. I will try to slow down in the mornings and simply watch my tea warm up; it could become my version of “reading tea leaves”!

Chrysanthemums reveal a surprise

The mum plants that we put into our front garden two or three years ago are really thriving and now become big round globes each fall, two with dark purple flowers and one with a deep gold colored flower, all just a bit bigger in diameter than a quarter. I discovered recently that after being inside for a few days, the purple flowers are opening up just a bit more and revealing a small yellow-gold center composed of tiny petals. It’s another reminder for me to pause and breathe and remember the calm, centered place that I can go to when I need to de-stress.

Coming Home

On my way home one night, after dark, I glimpsed a car in a well-lit garage. The garage door was closing as I drove by. I had an immediate warm and cozy feeling of being home, safe, back with loved ones.

Like everyone on some level of consciousness, I seek that sense of where I am going and why I’m going there. Do these brief moments that I felt inclined to describe hold nuggets of information for me about the where and the why? I wonder….

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