Today was one of the Ten Best Days of the year for us, weather wise, in Hudson County, New Jersey. The combination of soft breezes, cloudless skies and the agreeable temperature combined to coax more than a few of our neighbors out of their houses. We were persuaded to go for a stroll as well.
Leading Mom, Dad and dog Celeste on our regular loop around the reservoir was our son Nicolas, in the stroller, pointing straight ahead, like the baby general that he is. We came across folks raking the fallen leaves, others cleaning their cars, and some strolling, just like us. Celeste was happiest of all. She loves having the family together, and if we’re together outside, even better.
I was aware that as long as I am able to live in the moment — which I admit I seldom can — today’s walk was perfect in every way. And for the amount of time that I could hold that reality, there was neither fear nor lack but a deep recognition that all was well with the world. My steps were bathed in appreciation and a certain joy as I went walking on a late fall afternoon with my loved ones.
Later, as I was rocking my son to sleep, all of the news of the last few cycles came up in my awareness. The images of destruction and death and loss from the recent suicide bombings in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the senseless shooting at Fort Hood in Texas pile up in my brain. I was shaken. I try not to inflate my gratitude by comparing to those who are suffering today, not being able to know the depth of their pain. But I can’t resist the thought that a parent, who held a son yesterday, like I am holding Nicolas tonight, will not have that privilege again.
On some nights when she takes a turn putting our son to bed, my wife sings James Taylor songs as lullabies for Nicolas. For me, using Om as I rock back and forth on the comfy chair in his room, has worked really well for the last couple of years. It doesn’t immediately put him to sleep, but it does calm him down. Lately, Nicolas has been joining me in the omming. I’ve also been teaching him the word amen. He’s got the first part down.
Tonight, the sacred mantra in Nicolas’ room is a prayer of intercession for those enduring the inexplicable horror wrought by the lost and the frightened on the innocent. Om is also a prayer of gratitude for us able to enjoy a family stroll. Tomorrow’s weather forecast looks even better…