William Blake, 19th century visionary poet of the soul, expressed in two lines the essence of appreciating each moment and living in the eternal now: “He who kisses the joy as it flies/Lives in eternity’s sunrise.” Spiritual masters down through the ages have advised seekers to live in the present moment, where all wisdom, peace, and divine connection reside. Those who meditate know that within each breath is that presence, the spirit within, connected to all spirit across time and space. Whether or not we formally meditate or call ourselves spiritual seekers, we all have countless opportunities to access that wisdom in daily life.
Many years ago, my father told me a story about his own experience of realizing how irreplaceable each moment is. He said that when I was a little girl, he used to be upset that my feet wore away the grass beneath the swing hanging from an old oak tree in our yard. My mother told him, “Someday you’ll wish Peggy was still around to play on that swing.” Years later, when I was 18 and on a graduation trip to Europe, my appendix burst in Italy, and I was taken to the hospital in Venice. My parents received a long-distance phone call in which they were told I was dangerously ill and they should fly to Venice immediately. After the call, my dad stood staring out the window, lost in thought, when his eyes fell on my old swing, now hanging by one rope, the grass all filled in on the ground below. He recalled my mother’s words and realized how much wiser than he she had been. “You were all grown up and hospitalized in another country, and I would have given anything to have you safely back home and swinging on your swing in the backyard.”
At that point in his life, my father was able to see the greater wisdom. It changed him, I think. He became softer in later years, more centered in the flow of life’s precious moments, especially in the natural world outside where he spent much of his time gardening after he retired. Interestingly, it was during those years that I remember him reading William Blake and sharing quotes with me. “To hold infinity in the palm of your hand/And eternity in an hour” was one of his favorites.
I’ve never forgotten my father’s story or his love of William Blake’s writing, which I share now too. Life presents us with so many doorways to a wider perspective that can open our hearts and minds to timeless insights. Just the other morning, as I sat in meditation, my mind preoccupied with some passing worry, I suddenly remembered Blake’s words and was stopped mid-thought. I opened my eyes, looked out the window at the rising sun lighting up the winter trees, and was filled with such intense gratitude for the beauty right before me. Spirit gives us these reminders all the time. Our days are full of them. We can fear the future and rail against life’s difficulties, or we can appreciate the world around us in all its infinite wonder and variety. If we “kiss the joy as it flies,” we step into living our lives fully and begin to see “eternity’s sunrise” in every passing moment.