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Paddlin in Time

I was greeted this morning by the brightness of the full moon streaming into my bedroom window. It was a gentler awakening than my alarm clock, causing me to feel more peaceful about the dawning of yet another busy workday. A question arose in my heart – what have I done with my time in between the cycles of the full moon?

Last month, I was paddling under the full moon in Arizona with my friends Dee, Colleen, Ann, Audrey and her dog, Emma. We arose at 4am to be on the calm waters of Saguaro Lake by 5am to witness the new day. To be present as the natural cycle of time unfolded – the full moon was setting and the morning sun rising.

Pic1-Moonbeams

Silhouetted in the shimmering moonbeams, we braved the cold, desert morning to behold this passage of time. We were experiencing the moment to its fullest and I began to think about this whole concept of time. What really is its defining factor? From this to that, from one thing to the next, time is measured by movement. It is a strange concept. When we are waiting for some highly anticipated news or event, time seems to pass as slowly as wading through a thick pool of molasses. At other times, when we are scurrying about our busy lives, it seems to be a blur, like a train zooming by on its way to the next stop. So much of our lives seem to be controlled by time – clocks and calendars define our days.

How is it that our perception of time can be so ever changing? Every minute has 60 seconds, every hour has 60 minutes, and every day has 24 hours. None of us are given any more or any less.

On the water that morning, time seemed to stand still. Paddling in the fullness of the moon, less concerned about time, we experienced graced moments of freedom. Just to be was enough.

Pic2- Full Moon

Saguaro Lake is named for the imposing Saguaro cactus that stand majestically along the 22 miles of desert shoreline. Watching the full moon set from my kayak, I thought of a saying I read in a great little book called Zen O’Clock: Time to Be by Scott Shaw. “Pursuing something is good. Choosing to pursue nothing is also good. Being completely content with where you are, with what you have, is good.” Being present this morning with the full moon was contentment at its best.

Madisyn Taylor wrote a short essay called Two Sides of the Same Moon. In it she says when the moon is dark, we might take time to meditate on emptiness, the time when fertile seeds take hold and that full moons are times of celebration as they symbolize the realization of the seed to completion and fullness. She suggests we increase our awareness of the moon’s cycles to strengthen our connection to the universe and find peace in both emptiness and fullness. I can’t remember what I planted in between these cycles of the full moon, but I am going to make a conscious effort to do so from now on. In any event, we celebrated on the water that morning with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, shivering in the cold desert air, but loving every moment.

My friend Ann and I have coined a new, very simple phrase, “right now.” If there is something we want to do, we are not waiting anymore. Life has shown us time and time again that the only moment we have is now, and we better get on with the business of what’s important. There are no somedays, tomorrow is promised to no one, life holds no guarantees and it can all change in a moment.

As the new day dawned on the water, a strange sadness overcame me’ letting the full moon go. I felt safe and protected, cloaked in the darkness on the water with only the moon to illuminate our slice of morning. As the day unfolded, everything became exposed. And although we were still “being”, the pace of time seemed to quicken and the magic of the full moon was fading away.

Pic3- Full Moon2

Time really is a precious gift. When I look back over my life, so many defining moments have guided my course and have given me some of my best and most treasured memories, including this morning on the water. As I sat attentive to the new day unfolding, I wondered how many moments I have missed and how often I have not been present.

Pic4- Dawn

Those thoughts didn’t make me sad, but reminded me of the importance of valuing the time I have, remembering to pause and appreciate all the blessings in my life. Releasing the tether to schedules and deadlines and focusing more on the natural cycles of life. With the dawn of this stunning Arizona day came new insight and a new appreciation of time.

As the sun rose, I felt a deep sense of gratitude for my friendships and kayaking time. Everything within me became more peaceful as I opened to the day, relishing every moment on the water. The sunlight shimmered on the water, just like the moonbeams did.  Another cycle complete.

Pic5- Zen

The questions for this reflection come from the little book, Zen O’Clock. I hope in your day today, you can find some time to ponder.

Think of all the times you took a shortcut in order to accomplish something. What was the purpose?

How many times have you stepped outside and not even noticed what the weather was like?

How many times have you traveled to some destination and, due to the fact that your mind was on other issues affecting your life, you did not even notice how you felt or what you saw?

If you could travel in time, either into the future or into the past, where would you go and why?

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