For this blog, we start with a couple of personal stories from Reverend Doll, so he’s the “I” here…
A few months ago, I bumped into an old friend. When I asked him how he was doing he offered me a surprising response, “Best day of my life!”
“Best day of your life!?” I said. “Really? What in the world happened today?”
As I awaited his reply, my head began to run ahead with gleeful anticipation of something roughly equivalent to his wedding day or the birth of his children. So you can imagine my surprise when he shared with me that today was the best day of his life because “he had never had a day like this one before with all its uniqueness, blessings and graces. Plus, there is no guarantee that I will even have a tomorrow.”
My mind immediately raced to a piece of ancient-yet-timeless wisdom from the New Testament. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow (Matthew 6:34).
This short line certainly ranks up there as some of the sagest counsel ever given to humanity. This lesson was delivered to me a number of years ago when my daughter was about two years old. She was out playing in the backyard when she noticed me walking up the driveway. She ran to me as fast as her little legs could carry her and took a flying leap into my arms. After giving me a big hug, she told me that she had a gift for me. “I have some flowers for you, Papa.” She opened her little patty and dropped a bunch of grass blades into my open palm. I said, “Thank you” as I carried them into the house. At some point, I feel the blades of grass in my hand so I release my fingers to take a look. Blades of grass but not just blades of grass. Teeny, tiny, almost microscopic purple flowers accompanying them. There is no way in the world I would have ever noticed them in the grass but my little girl, who was paying attention, saw them.
O, the ways in which our lives could be enriched and deepened if we would live fully in today.
If you pinned us (both the Rabbi and the Reverend) down and forced us to produce a short list of the most important lessons for the cultivation of a healthy soul, learning to live in everyday moments would certainly make the cut. It has transformative power for our spiritual, emotional and physical health. Here are a few of the benefits:
- It slows down our internal gauges and allows us to see, notice, hear, experience things that otherwise would remain in the land of our own oblivion.
- It enhances the quality of our lives as we move toward deeper levels of appreciation and wonder.
- It destresses our minds by shifting our focus from the worrisome future to the glorious present.
- It reminds us that even when life is a challenge or painful, there is still grace and beauty everywhere.
- It cultivates in us a great awareness of the One who is the source of peace, joy and contentment.
Bracket off each day as its own entity. And by all means, don’t fall into the trap of peeking around the corner into the future worrying about what’s coming. Live in the moment. Stay present in every aspect of the now. Be more aware. Notice what is going on around you, in front of you and most importantly, in you. And the next time someone asks you how you are doing, tell them, “Best day of my life!” Because if you learn to live in the present, it will be true!
Click here to purchase Rabbi Daniel Cohen’s book, What Will They Say About You When You Are Gone?