There are times when ordinary experiences that have been part of our lives day after day suddenly speak to us with such a radiant force it seems as though they are miracles. In his spiritual biography, The Golden String, Bede Griffiths describes an evening walk when he was taken by surprise in a way that had never happened to him before. This experience significantly changed his life, drawing him into a more mindful way of living. As he walked alone at dusk, the birds were singing in full chorus, the hawthorn trees were bursting with bloom, the fading sun was casting color across the fields. As everything grew still and the veil of darkness began to cover the earth, he paints a picture of his feelings with these words:
“I remember now the feeling of awe which came over me. I felt inclined to kneel on the ground, as though I had been standing in the presence of an angel; and I hardly dared to look on the face of the sky, because it seemed as though it was but a veil before the face of God.”
The mystical possibilities of every moment are revealed to us in our intentional pauses. There are, of course, times when we are startled into pausing because grace takes hold of us in an unexpectedly profound manner as it did for Bede Griffiths on his evening walk. Suddenly we see an aura, the holy light, exuding from all things. More often, though, we need to practice living in such a way that our pauses become treasured anointings in the midst of our work. If we practice living mindfully, we slowly begin to see the holiness of so many things that remain hidden when we choose to rush through the hours, striking tasks from the list of things we must accomplish before day’s end.
This pause can be as simple as standing attentively before a flowering plant or listening to the frog in the pond. Your pause may be an awakening stretch, or sitting quietly and remembering your name. Throughout the hours of the day, whenever you feel stressed and overwhelmed, instead of pushing yourself to work harder and faster, remember to pause.
Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB, is a best-selling author and member of St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith, Arkansas. This excerpt is from her book, "Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day" (Sorin Books)
Have you ever had an experience similar to Bede Griffiths? Do you have any “pause moments” during the day that you’d like to share?
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Monks in Our Midst: writings by monks from the 3rd to the 21st centuries.