We can all recall that special moment when “time stood still” for us. Just thinking about a memorable incident can evoke sensations strong enough to be physically manifested.
I experienced just such a moment recently, astounded and glued to the spot, not unable but unwilling to move. I couldn’t care less about missing my train and being late for work or, that the kettle was boiling and screeching to be switched off. You see, I was rendered mindless by a special, magical act.
Early on Thursday this past week I was up at my usual hour. As is my wont, I stood at the bedroom window contemplatively staring beyond the leafless branches of the dark tree in the front yard, over the drooping neighbourhood rooftops and into the skyline extending over Lake Ontario. Suddenly, without warning the almost black, aubergine horizon was breached by a glorious, almost tentative streak of red. It then gradually transformed into a burst of lilac-pink and orange colours before serving up a swirling palette of hues and shades that I do not have the power to even begin to describe, on a gradually lightening up pale blue canvas. In minutes the entire sky turned a fiery red as the sun sallied forth in all its glory. Almost as a visceral reaction I silently mouthed the opening words of an old Sufi couplet that was immortalized by the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in a qawwali:
“Tajjallaa teri shaan kaa kuu-ba-kuu hai
Jidhar dekhtaa hun udhhar tuu hi tuu hai”
[Your Majestic luminance abounds all around
Wherever I look, it is but Thy presence manifesting itself]
I slid open the window panes to take in the crisp, fresh (nearly) spring air, even as my eyes feasted on the magic unfolding in front of me. Time stood still and I remained transfixed by nature’s glory, which could just as easily have been overlooked in the mindless everyday pursuits of our very finite lives.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus had averred, “No man steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” This applied so well to this moment. Another day will dawn and the sunrise will be rapturous again, but it will not be the same or, I might not be a part of that moment.
My wife has just returned after a visit to India, spending time with her ninety years old mum, sisters, a favourite uncle and aunt and other members of the family. She was able to recall and relive moments of past times shared with them. The magic of times gone by eluded her and she said while good, it just was not the same. It never is. The here and now is what gets embedded in our memory and nothing usually compares favourably with the original experience.
Her fatigue and tedium was washed away however, when she caught up with our nine months old grandson after being away for nearly a month. He had learned to crawl while she was gone and after the initial hesitation at meeting this vaguely familiar person, he was soon settled in her lap, trying to chat her up. This was her “sunrise” moment and one that they both basked in. To each their own. Each of us discovers “Godliness” in ways that appeal to us. We believe we do anyway and leave all that we are unwilling to contend with, to “faith.”