Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wealthy in Love

It was green olives that did it this time--picholines that woke me up. In one seemingly ordinary moment, my teeth shaving the firm, brined fruit from its stone, I saw it: there is no such thing as an ordinary moment. It felt like a miracle to me, the earth the air the sunlight the water of the French countryside in my mouth, my tongue tasting its distinctiveness.

How is it that we ever experience ourselves, whether in moments or in sum, as anything but wealthy?

After a brilliantly sunny Monday, Dublin was very gray all day today, and cold though not windy. What a surprise it was to look up at around dusk and see hovering over the mountains one long cumulus cloud glowing, beatifically lit from behind with the faintest, shyest bit of sunset summery in its pastel tones and to say the least antithetical to the prevailing bleakness. I dropped what I was doing, and moved to the next room for a broader view. I gladly and gratefully gave my eyes to the subdued majesty before me--not reverent exactly, but still it was a sort of veneration I suppose.

Sunsets (and sunrises for that matter) are once-in-a-lifetime events, every one of them. Ditto
the ever changing arrangement of clouds on that ocean of blue we call sky. Unlike our sentinel stars and planets, the perpetually unique displays of morning, daytime, and evening skies epitomize the impermanence that characterizes the natural world, the impermanence that we are.

Whatever would be the polar opposite of "There's more where that came from": that's how I was raised. Implicitly and explicitly, we were trained to make things last. Indeed, it was an atmosphere of "There's
no more where that came from." Shoes, clothing, toys, schoolbooks: it was tantamount to criminal if we ruined or broke or lost any of these. For sure there were earmarks of poverty mentality on this style of upbringing. But I credit it with my penchant for avoiding waste. What is making a thing last but a form of cherishing? I learned respect for having and appreciation for that which I had.

Last March in Montmartre, I tasted perhaps my first ever vintage St. Emilion. I was instructed to hold the sip in my mouth for a time before swallowing, to notice if the palate changed at all as it sat on my tongue. I did as I was told, and before long my eyes widened. I swallowed then, and almost burst with my discovery: "Cherry!"

We enjoyed that bottle over four days--not hoarding but savoring its contents--and each day the cherry hints grew more pronounced. I think it's fair to say that I tasted every drop of that wine. I cannot claim this about any I've drunk before or since.

Consumption will get us full, but it's tasting that gets us fed. What on earth isn't worth savoring? Sure, there often
is more where "that" - fill in the blank - came from. But to consume without tasting is to miss the moments.

What if this were your last olive, your last visit with mom, your last hockey practice, your last sunset, your last kiss? How would your experience of the olive, the visit, the practice, the sunset, the kiss be different? Would it be different? I say yes. I say that from that standpoint, even the minutiae of daily life occur as precious, even miraculous. One feels possessed of a wealth that no layoff, no recession, no deflation could ever touch.

This is what it means to dwell in the abundance of Love. This is what it means to be wealthy in Love.


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