Savoring gift of each moment


While walking our dog in our neighborhood on the west side of Delaware, my husband and I came upon a front yard with a freshly dug trench from what looks like a water main repair. The ground was left, heaped up like a grave with a homemade sign in the shape of a tombstone that proclaimed “RIP 2020.” I get a laugh out of it every time we pass the home!

Indeed, 2020 has been a year of stress, difficulty and trauma. The COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustice, the politicization of just about every issue, fears of economic distress, and concerns about any communal gathering has created fear and unrest in our society. We want to bury 2020 and move on from all the trauma we are experiencing.

School has started, some of us have adjusted to working from home, we are caring for each other by wearing masks as we go about our activities. Worship remains online or in a profoundly different way in person. Gatherings and meetings are scheduled via Zoom. Our world looks very different than just six months ago.

Sometimes it takes a crisis, or maybe a pandemic, to awaken us from the slumber of everyday life to the miracles inherent in the ordinary.

In Thornton Wilder’s play, “Our Town,” in the last scene Emily returns to Earth to relive one day, her 12th birthday. For the first time in years, she joyfully watches her parents and some of the people of her childhood, but her joy quickly turns to pain as she realizes how little people appreciate the simple joys of life. The memory proves too painful for her, and she realizes that every moment of life should be treasured.

When she asks the stage manager, “Does anyone truly realize the value of life while they live it?” The stage manager responds, “No. The saints and poets, maybe — they do some.”

Living in a pandemic makes us more keenly aware of life while we live it. I smell the new wooden fence of my neighbor, and I am grateful. We slow down and notice things that have evaded us in the past, like the sight of flowers and the sound of birds, the sunrise, each breath-taking moment.

Jane Kenyon’s poem, “Otherwise,” fills my empty pockets with gratitude, reminding me to take nothing for granted.

Jane Kenyon died of leukemia at the age of 47. She wrote this poem shortly before her death with a profound sense that things would soon be “otherwise” for her:

“I got out of bed on two strong legs.

It might have been otherwise.

I ate cereal, sweet milk, ripe, flawless peach.

It might have been otherwise.

I took the dog uphill to the birch wood.

All morning I did the work I love. At noon I lay down with my mate.

It might have been otherwise.

We ate dinner together at a table with silver candlesticks.

It might have been otherwise.

I slept in a bed in our room with paintings on the walls,

and planned another day just like this day.

But, one day, I know it will be otherwise.”

Friends, take the world into your arms today, inhaling the gift of each moment and the gift of those who travel the path with you. Take absolutely nothing for granted, including each other.

By Rev. Tamara Wilden

Your Pastor Speaks

The Rev. Dr. Tamara Wilden is an elder in the United Methodist Church, and she serves as a chaplain at Grady Memorial Hospital with OhioHealth.

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