When I was a young dancer in my prime, I could leap into the air, turn around, and return to Earth without making a sound. A similar attempt at my current age of 76 would create quite a thud.
Barbara Mettler, founder and director of the Tucson Creative Dance Center where I studied and worked in the 1970s, would occasionally challenge us dancers with an exercise using the word, “now.” With every single movement, whether it be of a hand or leg or the whole body, we were to say, loudly and clearly, exhaling deeply, “now.”
The purpose of the exercise was to unite breath, body, mind and intention. In each “now” movement there was no past, no future. Just this movement. This dance. This moment. Now.
In the middle of a recent sleepless night, I thought again of those days and that exercise. I was restless, burdened by memories of how things used to be before the COVID-19 pandemic, yearning for a future beyond this terrible scourge. No matter how I tried, I was unable to center myself in the now: a safe roof over my head; air conditioning in the hot Arizona desert; a comfortable bed; the love of my life sleeping peacefully beside me.
Over and over again, the reality of the now eluded me. I paid dearly for that night. The next day, I was a grouch with a headache.
We are so accustomed to being in control, able to plan our future moments, days, years. “I will meet my friend for coffee. I will visit and hug my grandchildren. I will put in for a promotion at work. I will fly to my niece’s wedding. I will go to a bar, a dance, a party, a family reunion.”
We don’t know when we again might do these things. We may have lost our job; or we may have a job, but remain on guard to stay safe at work.
We worry about ourselves, and our health. About our loved ones. About everyone. We look back on what seemed, in comparison, a carefree past. We yearn for a carefree future.
Both the past and the future feel, at this moment, out of reach. We may rebel against current limitations rather than looking inside those limits to find the treasures hidden there. This moment simply is. And it has its gifts.
At this moment, I am outdoors on my back patio. I am sitting in a comfortable chair. I hear birdsong. I feel the warmth of the rising sun on my back. A rabbit sits below my patio, ears straight up. I am present. I am here. Now.
I open the Scriptures, exhale deeply, and enter the word. I invite you to join me:
The hour cometh, and is now (John 5:25). Do ye now believe? (John 16:32) Now I know with surety (Acts 12:11), now being made free (Romans 6:22), now I know in part (I Corinthians 13:12) now is the time to awake (Romans 13:11). Now we can breathe again (I Thessalonians 3:8). Now you are the people of God (I Peter 2:10).