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TreeCutting2017Half or fully dead trees hit the gravel with a crack, temporarily blocking access to our driveway. Today, Keith and I took down a few trees and cut them into firewood. Our efforts were pre-emptive and practical because “winter is coming.”

People familiar with Game of Thrones know that cautionary expression. Those who live further North in the northern hemisphere, like my relatives in Maine or Keith’s in Michigan, understand: the past indicates what’s coming in the future. But this morning’s reflection from Richard Rohr held a different warning, one that gave me pause.

“Jesus teaches and is himself a message of now-ness, here-ness, concreteness, and this-ness,” Rohr wrote. “The only time Jesus talks about future time is when he tells us not to worry about it (see Matthew 6:25-34). Don’t worry about times and seasons, don’t worry about when God will return, don’t worry about tomorrow. Thinking about the future keeps us in our heads, far from presence.”

 

Last Saturday, I loaded the dogs into our Subaru and drove to the county recreation center to pick up our turkey order for the year. Heathcliff and Freya stuck their muzzles out the back windows, snorting and sniffing. Pulling into the parking lot, we saw other dogs frolicking on the playground. Now-ness, here-ness, concreteness, and this-ness exploded in a frenzy of barks and whines. The present was all I thought about, though this had happened many times in the past.

Rohr also warned about that past. “Yet as practitioners of meditation have discovered, the mind can only do two things: replay the past and plan or worry about the future. The mind is always bored in the present. So it must be trained to stop running backward and forward.”

 

While cutting trees and stacking firewood today, I didn’t think about the past or the future. I focused on the present: the cold air, our protective eye and ear covers, the rub of clothing as arm and leg muscles moved in tempo with the work—Keith handling the chainsaw and I guiding tree falls with rigging and our truck. No running backward or forward in time, no boredom.

Now-ness. Here-ness. Concreteness. This-ness. Presence.

 

We here and now at Vanaprastha wish you a very blessed Thanksgiving.