Are we there yet?

Earlier this month I led a zoom session on contemplative journaling with a group of creative mama’s. We listened to poetry using the practice of lectio divina (holy reading) and journaled our thoughts, feelings, and memories. Even though I had been reading the poems I selected days ahead of time, still, when I read Mary Oliver’s Mindful (Why I Wake Early) to the group, her words washed over me in a new way.

It is what I was born for -
to look, to listen
to lose myself
inside this soft world.

I copied these words in my journal and wondered, “Could it be that simple? Looking and listening?”

August has always been an emotional month for me. This month I celebrate both mine and my husband’s birthdays, our anniversary, and the beginning of school for my children. I love birthdays but as I get older and my children seem to be transforming everyday before my eyes, I feel a sense of dread towards aging. I know it’s a gift to be alive, and I don’t take for granted the celebration of another year. Yet, I need the reminder from Mary Oliver to really look and listen to my life. My prayers continue to be: Help me to really see, to get off of the screens and into the world. I want to grow wise in the lessons of looking and listening. I want to marvel at the sheer delight of my children, fresh produce, and time in the garden. I want to be one who looks and listens to all who come before me. I want to be, as Oliver writes, bathed in “the untrimmable light of the world.”

On a recent vacation we heard the common phrase from our kids, “Are we there yet?” Too often I’m not that different from my children and am asking my own version of are we there yet? Whether it’s with my writing or parenting or planning the next adventure, I’m always waiting for what’s next. I look ahead to the next nap or quiet time, phone call, school year, vacation, meal, or educational opportunity and wonder, “Am I there yet?” It seems that I’m always waiting for what’s next rather than living in the here and now.

While we’re driving I tell Charlotte, “No, we’re not there yet, but why don’t you tell me what you see right here.” She begins to rattle off what she sees:

A red car
The sun reflecting on the road
Isaac, Mommy, and daddy

I nod in agreement with Charlotte as she continues to tell me what’s around her. We’re not there yet, but we’re here. Now. And this moment is a gift.

Look and listen. What do you see?

**(I wrote this for the introduction to my August 2021 monthly e-newsletter. If you'd like to read more reflections like this one, sign up here. I send my newsletter on the first Wednesday of every month and include a short reflection and a few of my favorite things around the internet. It'd be an honor to share my words with you).