A moment of breathtaking gratitude

Published 11:25 am Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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There are moments in our lives that Dr. Jim Finley, clinical psychologist and author of The Contemplative Heart, describes as ‘sacred moments of vulnerability.’ These are the moments we can actually ‘Be still and know that I am God’ and connect to our Divine indwelling- and awaken to our true self.

What he describes are those fleeting moments when we allow ourselves to be free of distractions and are fully present to the Divine in the laugh of a child, a dog rolling in the grass, sunlight rippling across a still pond. Sometimes we allow ourselves to be caught up in such a glorious sensation for a split second, or more rarely, minutes. Such a gift I—and I believe my friends—experienced this week during a lunch.

Accepting the invitation of a resident who was a friend, Donna, Sami and I wound our way round Glassy Mountain until we reached the ear-popping summit and set up our picnic offerings against a stiff breeze on a patio with table and chairs that, if it weren’t contained by a low stone wall, would have us teetering upon the edge. We had only just pulled out Donna’s edamame salad and cubed watermelon, chattering away cheerfully, when Sami pointed directly overhead and cried, “Red-shouldered hawk!”

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As we craned our necks upward, the hawk swooped directly over us and the cliff, wings pressed in, in a dive. He then outstretched his magnificent wingspan and despite the gusting winds, hovered perfectly still for what seemed to be an age, perhaps searching for his own lunch. Because of the elevation, I have never before gazed down upon a hawk in flight. It was spectacular, surreal and held us all within a state of wonder, our minds void of any other thought as long as our guest hung suspended, the spring sun glancing off his wings.

Afterward, we returned to our conversation with present-day concerns and laughter. When I returned home, I searched the skies, but only bluebirds and cardinals scattered through the trees. I realized that such a gift as we had received atop the mountain can’t be looked for or in any way expected but rather has to be given. 

As well as received, in stillness, with breathtaking gratitude.