In A House for Hope, Rebecca Parker writes the first chapter, “The Holy Ground,” and discusses the topic of paradise as religions view it, especially how liberal religious communities have viewed it as the earth now with the possibility for it being what we want, having love and compassion incorporated into the paradise we can create here rather than paradise being completely separate from earthly, mortal existence.
If that sounds too heavy, I’m not expecting you to go read the chapter (though it’s only about 15 pages long and currently* available through Google books if you are interested in reading it).
Rather, the concept of being comfortable with where we are in this moment is worth highlighting. My life is not as I want it to be. I accept that. I want more. And, I can keep reaching for more. But, in this moment, I can find peace with where I am, what I have here, and make the most of it.
This is enough.
The following excerpt from the book may illustrate the idea. The author is on a bus touring a national park and speaking to one of the other travelers, who fosters kids and who acknowledges the heartbreak and brokenness of that work.
He asked what book topic I was working on now, and I answered, “Paradise.”
“Paradise,” he mused, and looked out the window of the bus for a few moments at the bright sky, the deep green pine forests, the alpine meadows coming into view, and rising above them, the sharp peaks of the Minarets.
“Do you mean ‘paradise’ like where we are right now?”
“Yes,” I said. “Like where we are right now.”
We both gazed out the window for a few moments, breathing the pungent fresh air.
“This is enough,” he said.
“You know that because you help kids,” I said.
A cloud of thoughtfulness passed over his face.
“Yes,” he replied, “that’s right.”
We come to know this world as paradise when our hearts and souls are reborn through the arduous and tender task of living rightly with one another and the earth. Generosity and mutual care are the pathways into knowing that paradise is here and now. This way of life is not utopian. It does not spring from the imagination of a better world. It brings hope home to today, to this moment and its possibilities for faithful love.
The author and her fellow traveler are not naive; they’ve experienced much in the world, including the heartbreak it has to offer. But, they accept the imperfection, strive for closer to perfection, and accept the moment for what it is.
I find a meditative peace in that. Now is enough. Where we are now is okay for this moment. In another moment we will be somewhere else, and so the world turns.
Repeat after me…
This is not where I want to ultimately be. I am working towards something better, always reaching. This is a step along the path, and the journey is worthwhile.
I am not perfect, and that is okay. I work to improve life for myself and those around me. I have value even in my imperfect state.
This moment is enough.
*As of September 24, 2016, Chapter 1 of A House for Hope, which I reference here, is fully available here through Google books.
Winter, Eyal. “Why is it Hard to Live for the Moment.” Psychology Today. 19 Sept. 2016