by Sister Carolyn Law
“It is already September and we have had no summer!”
I have heard this comment many times recently. The tone of voice is whiney. The cause is our having a relatively cool summer in Chicago. I used the fan only a couple of days. I politely agree with the speaker but inside I am asking “Where were you during June, July, and August?”
The sun rose and set each day this summer and we breathed every minute of each day. We have worn our short sleeves and shorts. We have donned our sunglasses. The birds migrated north, hatched their chicks, and now are migrating south once again.
Time flies fast under two circumstances: when we are having fun and when we are too busy. When we are having fun we are totally in the present moment and present to those we are with and to our experience. This is delightful. I think the complaint about “no summer” is a result of the second condition—too busy. When we are too busy we risk losing our sense of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a presence of awareness, a quality of self awareness and awareness of what and who surrounds us.
My brother-in-law, Bill , is an interesting and nice guy. He is a psychologist and teaches mindfulness classes. Bill and I recently did a mindfulness yoga exercise. The movements were slow and easy, while stretching and strengthening. Mindfulness yoga invites the practioner to slow down and be aware of one’s experience. Mindfulness invites us to be in the present moment, not second guessing the past, nor anticipating the future.
Another body-mind practice is Alexander Technique, a re-education of movement and posture. This technique calls living into the future “end gaining.” End gaining causes us to be ahead of ourselves. When we get ahead of ourselves, we lose contact with the present moment and ourselves. Then we get tense and lose fluidity of movement.
The Franciscan version of mindfulness is “living with a contemplative attitude”. Contemplation is stopping, being present to moment and seeing this moment as gift. A gift can never be possessed, analyzed or callously manipulated. A gift cannot be judged. A gift is cherished.
Have you had a summer? If not, slow down. It is never too late to start slowly down. Now is the moment. Take a deep breath. Be aware of the air flowing in and flowing out. Repeat. Smile at the gift of breathing, the gift of the sensation, the awareness of LIFE. This is a sure path to mind-full contemplation.
Written by Sister Jan Kilian, this blog will give an understanding of what it’s like to be Franciscan. Living out the spirit of Saint Francis, we see all God’s creation as brother and sister. We, Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, are committed to building relationships and community, ministering wherever there is greatest need, promoting justice and healing Mother Earth’s wounds. My writings will give a glimpse of the compassion, spirituality, interconnectedness and goodness of living Franciscan.