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The Practice of Dwelling in the Now (Not the Not-Yet)

Updated: Jan 12

I sit in the place that will one day make up the center of my labyrinth. The leg of the chair teeters precariously between two pieces of gravel. It’s not yet the smooth surface of a path it will be. I try to imagine what this garden will look like then. There will be a finished path to the front of the property, pots of flowering plants adding a splash of spring color to the morning. When I stand here in the future, I will see a budding rose bush and the flowering clematis vines climbing the retaining wall. It’s hard to see it now in the blurry morning light. I can’t quite grasp it. It isn’t complete yet. It hardly looks like more than a mess right now. The prayer garden I dream of is, for now, a mound of gravel haphazardly deposited in the yard. The red clay beneath is freshly turned up, exposing the roots and weeds, tracks from the tires of the tractor, and earthworms squinting in the light of their unearthed tunnels. One day, where I am sitting will be part of a path placed purposely here for the sole means of reflection, for a slow quiet look at God. In this spot in the middle of the winding labyrinth, there will be part of a path unfolding in front of me, and some of it already behind me. This will be the middle of the pilgrimage toward the center or back out again. Today, I can’t close my eyes and imagine that picture – whole and complete before me. I only see the tools left in the yard from yesterday’s work, the rusting gas tank, the brambles, and the downed trees left behind after the land was cleared. Ugly things. Frustrating, unfinished things. But I want to see something different and so here I sit. I’ve taken up the morning practice of forcing myself to sit in the construction zone of my labyrinth and prayer garden. I train my eyes to see the beauty that exists here now. A cardinal sings in the maple above me, flashing red against the green canopy. Two mourning doves coo as they waddle among the seed I spilled just for them. The chipmunk we’ve taken to calling Alvin darts out from under a rock and, seeing me, scurries away again. Fresh topsoil glints under the sun in the raised bed, waiting for the rose to arrive and be planted this week. The dark soil is unblemished, free of weeds, and ready to nurture new life. The gardenia bush we weren't sure would survive has a few green sprigs that a monarch lands on before she flutters off for the rest of her journey. For a moment, I don't see what will be or what is not yet done. I just see the beauty this is right here in front of me. It is unfinished - a canvas with a few splashes of paint, waiting for more color but still beautiful in these, its first iterations. I already have a path unfolding in front of me, some of it already behind me. I’m right here in the middle and—for now—that’s where I will remain.


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