The other afternoon I was driving to pick my daughter up from track practice after school. We live in a small village in upstate New York and there is no traffic to speak of. This particular afternoon was stupendously beautiful and many young mothers were out walking their babies in strollers and accompanying their young children riding bikes along the main street I take to get to the school.
I slowed as I edged my way past the first Mom and stroller and then, with another car coming from the opposite direction, I had a split moment of trying to figure out the best way to maneuver around the upcoming children on their bikes. As I slowed to a stop, and waited for the on-coming car to pass I was suddenly struck with how lucky I was to be in my car, stopping for these beautiful children on this amazingly wonderful day and I said to myself, “what if we lived and taught a reference for life.”
As I continued along the road to pick up my daughter I realized that having reverence for life is not just doing what was right so that those children would be safe or making sure that I obeyed the laws of the road or looked socially and/or politically correct. Instead I was present to the preciousness of life all around me and including me. Young mothers with their children out on a Spring day, walking in the fresh air teaching their kids to stay on the right side of the road as they wobbled down the street happily being alive and me driving my car happily on my way to collect my daughter.
I loved the early years of my children’s life. On our walks I would pull my son’s radio flyer wagon down Via delle Mimose, the street we lived on in the Italian countryside. At first both kids sat inside the wagon and later my son started to ride his “bicicletta di Superman!” and we walked down to the Coffee Bar to get an ice cream for them and an espresso or iced tea for me. If we didn’t go to the Bar we would go the opposite direction to feed Solero, the horse. I often wonder if we ever gave Solero a stomach ache for how many apples and carrots we brought him. Still today, the kids talk about Solero. Those days are gone. Life is passing, my children are growing, they and I are fully emersed in their teen years and now I get to see others enjoy their young children and watch as a friend of mine goes through her first pregnancy. All of this and at the same time observing and supporting my friend Betty as she deals with the reality of being in the nursing home doing daily rehab, fighting courageously to be able to dress and bathe herself as well as get in and out of bed alone so that she can go home.
I am, fifty. Twenty years ago I was thirty and in twenty years I’ll be seventy. When I am seventy my son will be thirty-six and my daughter thirty-four. They will be around the same age I was when I gave birth to them. Who knows, maybe they will be parents too at that point. Where will I be?
My yoga teacher said something the other day which I really liked. “We learn that we are not trying to get connected to nature but that instead, we are nature.” We are born, we grow, learn and develop and continue doing so through our lives, just like the trees, flowers, animals and all that surrounds us. Where were we before we came to this earth and where will we go when we leave here is a grand question. I think it is an important question to consider and to thoughtfully answer for each person individually. It is important because without an answer that fits for you, that inspires you, your life today is being lived in a context of something other than your answer.
For some the answer of where we came from and where we are going is an inherited answer that others came up with many, many years ago. For others we are fighting against, or for an answer that resonates with what we truly believe and what makes sense for us. I find that just asking myself the question and reading, studying and exploring the world and people somehow gives me an answer – today I would say that Reverence for Life is the best way to explain it for me. So, if I say that it would mean that, we come from reverence and will return to reverence? Hmm, maybe but what I find really fulfilling is having reverence today, in this moment while I write this blog, and as I drive down the street and bring my car to a stop so the young children on their bikes can pass. Maybe we come from reverence, are reverence and will return to reverence. I think I’ll sit with that one for a while.