We need to have time to just breathe and relax. We need to be leisurely: to go slow, take time, to notice, to appreciate. This is easy to say, but not really that easy to do.
I read an essay once that suggested we should learn to sit and do nothing for half an hour while sitting in a park or a garden. Really do nothing, don’t focus on your breath, don’t think, don’t plan, just sit and be. I tried, I didn’t make five minutes before getting up to water the tomato plants.
To simply be takes some practice. Being in this way is the state of being yourself at ease within the whole. It is not about forgetting yourself, or transforming yourself, but simply being comfortable with all that you are. Not just the thinking you, or the physical you, or the emotional you, but the whole integrated deal.
And in just being you, at ease, you become open to the world,to all the other beings with you. Being part of the aliveness of summer
with all the plants and skateboards and ice cream. Being open to the world, being present, opens up the self. This experience of deep absorption in the now is what allows us to feel deeply.
As Unitarians we have yet to develop a unique spiritual practice, one that grounds us and connects us the greater whole, although as individuals many of us have found fruitful practices such as prayer and meditation. I think a Unitarian spiritual practice might simply involve being still, breathing, and paying attention, a kind of reverential contemplation. Smelling the wet asphalt after a rain, noticing the cardinal singing on a high branch, seeing the bees in the clover. Taking moments to be still and be ourselves. Just as we are. Sitting for half an hour outside without doing anything at all.
As chalice lighters, we are called to ground ourselves in the here and now. Not in prayer to a divine being above it all, not in detachment from the suffering of the world, but in taking our time to see and accept, with all its joys and burdens, our particular place in this living, breathing, terrible, beautiful planet. To be more present in the world, not less.
This time lapse video from Danmation shows the quiet pleasures of a summer day at a pond.