As a therapist, I am often thinking about how people grow, heal, and change. In many ways it is a subject that saturates my life. Even as I think about how that happens in the counseling office, I wonder about the life events that shape and transform people. It was, after all, the powerfully negative events that have wounded us. So what are the events that transform people for the good? I began some time ago recording events and looking at them as my clients would share moments that appeared to significantly transform their lives. Powerful experiences don’t always permanently transform, but there are times that indelibly inscribe change upon a person’s heart. But today, I want to write about capturing moments that have the potential to change our lives or perhaps only our day. I want to write about discovering those moments. We are surrounded by breathtaking experiences, moments that can inspire, bring us to tears, and fill our hearts with love. To feel, to allow a moment to wash over us and touch us to the core- those moments matter. I was inspired by one such simple moment in my life not too long ago. It got my thinking about how many profound and wonderful experiences I am missing on a daily basis.
Elizabeth Browning wrote:
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.
There are sacred moments all around us. Browning cleverly uses the story of Moses meeting God in a burning bush as an allegory for our lives.
I’m a Tolkien fan and I loved the old Rankin Bass Hobbit cartoon as a child. There is a scene in the cartoon (provided above) when Bilbo climbs a tree out of the dark Mirkwood and is bathed in sunlight and butterflies. They had been traveling in this dark hostile wood, growing despondent and weary. The trees angrily crowded out the sunlight. But when Bilbo emerges from the top he sees another world- a world right above them yet out of awareness and out of sight. In that moment as he looks out over the tops of the trees he feels transformed. He is impacted by something greater than himself.
There is an awesome line in the song that is played during that scene- “Let go of the moment that life makes you hold.” It’s deeply profound and poetic. Our lives can have a way of locking us into a way of thinking, feeling, and acting. Our agendas, insecurities, hunger, jealousy, and posturing often cause us to miss the most precious moments. We don’t allow ourselves to be moved by a kind act, a silly commercial, a powerful ballad or a simple hug. We are in the grip of life and refuse to pause or melt before the things that are bigger than us. Sometimes we are too busy with our agenda for the day, consumed with what we have to do, or we are locked into a feeling or thought that has been nagging at us. The answer is simple and yet difficult, in many ways its a life long aspiration. Just stop, let go of whatever life is pressuring you to hold and allow the moment to wash over you and fill you with something new and different.
The challenge is to pause and feel. To slow down and allow ourselves to be moved by the simple things. Let the past and the future go for a moment and allow the present to flood your hearts. Earth is crammed with these moments- we shed too few tears, our mouths do not contain enough laughter, and our arms do not embrace others nearly enough. My encouragement to us all is to attempt to fully embrace the simple moments around us.