I left the bedroom at 1:43 am, confident my congested, snoring wife would happily sleep away the night on her own. I made for the guest room and quiet.
At 4:06 am I finally lifted my old, sore back off the soft mattress and went downstairs to the firmer sofa, my third nocturnal venue.
Instead of lying down immediately to try and salvage the rest of the night I sat down instead to give my back a break.
It was easy for meditation to creep up on me. I was not in a ceremonial robe, I was in sweatpants and a tee shirt that said "Descendant of Immigrants". I was not sitting in pose on the floor, I was slouched on the couch. I was not sitting straight, my chakras were not aligned, my feet were crossed at the ankles and my chin rested in one palm of an arm that rested comfortably on the other arm crossed across my stomach.
I closed my eyes. I became aware of the constant hum of the refrigerator in the kitchen. I listened to the mantel clock ticking the seconds. I heard vehicles passing intermittently through the semirural country crossroads outside my front door….and I heard the splendid silence in between. Overhead, perhaps at 25,000 feet I heard the familiar whoosh of the flaps as an airplane began its final descent to either Baltimore or Washington DC. Before I knew it, thirty minutes had passed and I was ready to lie down and trade the present awareness for what dreams may come.
There were no mystical visions, no epiphanies, no voices or flashes of light … there were no new dramatic insights into who I am, who I have been, or who I will be.
But the refrigerator reminded me of how constant hope has been in my life. My faith tends to ebb and flood…and I am not always the most charitable person…not nearly as much as my snoring bride upstairs. But I have always had hope…hope in God, hope in life, hope in love, hope in you, hope in me…
The clock reminded me of how precious time is, this time right now, always this time right now, and how I am here in this time to know that.
And the people going by in their cars? And the people far above me, rustling from sleep, bustling about getting things ready to disembark, filled with … what?… excitement, relief, exhaustion, anxiety, joy, grief?… all these things and more. They reminded me that I wasn't alone from 4:06 to 4:45 am this morning, sitting there in the dark. They were up and about, too … busy, perhaps drowsily, with living, just like me.
We're all in this together, in this place and time. Union.
That was all that happened for me this morning after years of endeavoring to live a contemplative life. And that was good enough.
Larry Crawley-Woods is a third generation Southern Californian who now lives in West Virginia. Larry was an advocate for people living in nursing homes and retired from thirty years as a grief counselor in a hospice, in order to go to the other end of the age spectrum and babysit his four young grandchildren. He began contemplative centering as a 10-year old when it was called daydreaming.