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In this  my last  semester of teaching Psychiatric Nursing since 1983, I periodically find myself occupying a vacant office the university lets me use on the one day I am there teaching part time every week. This past Monday I happened to look up and notice this sign posted on a wall in this office.  It seemed an odd time and place for a profound truth to jump out at me, but it did.  Pondering these words instantaneously placed me on a “gratitude trajectory” that put my life in perspective. It has been filled with all kinds of moments ranging from almost unbearable to magical. Unfortunately, my mind periodically  has a tendency to focus on the negative moments more than the positive moments. The randomly placed push-pins left in the wall reminded me it is my responsibility to notice and collect the moments.

Today, because Spring has finally gotten here, our outdoor moments are much more pleasant than they were a few weeks ago and all this past winter when we experienced much more snow and ice than this region is used to tolerating.  But even those snow and ice-bound days hosted intermittent magical moments. I have found the key, for me,  is pausing from being enmeshed in a “busy body….busy mind” stance for long enough to step out of that box, take a deep breath, and actually give myself time and space to seek out the pleasant moments. The moments are always there; they are only absent in my perception because I fail to notice them.

Just yesterday, as a simple illustration, I found a dead bird on my sidewalk. I started to recoil in distaste, but something reminded me to treat a fellow creature created by God with respect. So I fetched a plastic bag and picked up the dead bird so that I could dispose of it properly. Doing so made me notice it had, by all appearances, experienced a very peaceful death. It looked as if it had just tucked its head in to go to sleep and had, instead, died.  Since I have spent the past couple of weeks contemplating  both death and the dying process, this seemed to be a message from God not to fear death but to embrace it as a natural part of living. I intuitively knew that God had been with this bird at the time of its death, and this reinforced my belief that God is with us through eternity—–including those moments we may not be aware of such as our conception, our growth from an embryo to an infant, our birth, and, yes, what happens to us when we die.

Perhaps it seems a bit odd that a dead bird would have such importance for me, but it did. Several months ago I had a very vivid dream in which a bird identical in appearance to this one flew directly at my “third eye.” In my dream, I was aware we were meant to merge as one being.  However,  I was “startled awake” before the bird made physical or psychic contact with me.  I think God sent me that dream to me so I would notice this bird and its message that death is a part of life that marks our passage into another form of being…..and during that passage, he is in us, with us, and all around us—— as he always is. God is always giving me  the gift of “moments, ” and he is starting to build my acceptance of death as one of those moments. May God bless and keep you.

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