The poet William Stafford wrote:

What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

When I came across these words again recently, my first response was to pause and take a deep breath. For many of us, the last couple of weeks since the U.S. elections have brought more confusion than clarity, more sudden grips of fear than spontaneous celebration, and certainly many more questions than answers. Many moments of the now and the here, right in this room, when you turn around since November 9th, haven’t felt like gifts I wanted.

Yet something about Stafford’s words wouldn’t let go of me. As I stayed with them a bit longer, I became aware of how many unexpected yet beautiful gifts I have received in the last couple of months. The gifts were moments in time – moments when I turned around and saw or experienced something extraordinary, or when someone said something that literally took my breath away.

I’ve been moving at a pretty fast pace since the beginning of September, and things aren’t going to slow down for at least a few more weeks. In addition to a full travel, teaching, and writing schedule, several people dear to my heart are in the midst of big life transitions. The aftermath of our recent elections has just stirred things up even more.

Yet in another way, I feel like I’ve been moving in slow motion. I’ve had to learn even more about how to hold space for many things happening at once. I’ve had to learn how to be fully present with many people and many different circumstances on an even deeper level, holding them all in my heart, yet at the same time, accepting that I cannot carry them. I can only be present with them. I’ve experienced being pulled into the moment-to-moment flow of life perhaps more than ever before. And as challenging as some of the circumstances have been, I’m grateful for who I am becoming in the process.

It’s amazing how life can bring such powerful learning when you least expect it. By practicing staying aware of my feet on the ground and the clothes on my skin, looking into people’s eyes, meeting them heart-to-heart, and listening to their souls as much as to their words, things happen. Hearts open. Energy shifts. Perspectives change. Fears diminish. Sitting with Stafford’s words again in the midst of uncertainty and confusion, my head became quiet and my heart got still.

Once again, I am reminded that to live in this moment-to-moment flow is a learned skill – a skill that we just keep practicing over and over and over again, day after day after day. In time, we start to dance within that flow. It becomes a way of life – co-creating with everything around us, moment to moment. We still need to pay attention and keep our focus, or it can easily slip away. It’s important not to take it for granted.

I certainly don’t claim to have mastered this way of living. In times such as these when there is a lot going on, I notice that I have to remember to choose where I put my focus. Yet step-by-step, day-by-day, it’s getting easier. I’m finding my way through the uncertainties and challenges.

This week in the United States, we celebrate our Thanksgiving holiday. There are many things for which I am grateful this year. Yet perhaps this deeper level of moment-to-moment awareness that has come out of challenge and uncertainty is at the top of the list. Indeed, What can anyone give you greater than now, starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?


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