(First published in 2015) In which a poem and song about the Christchurch earthquakes help me to take a mindful moment when I drink a glass of water.
One of my boot camp tasks is to increase the number of genuinely mindful moments—when I’m fully aware of what I am doing and feeling and thinking and sensing at at the time. Sitting and meditating is easy by comparison. Both are a pleasure—but it’s difficult to snatch that quick flash of mindfulness in a busy day.
Paradoxically, mindfulness comes easier when it’s a habit. My son Geoff, for example, aims to be mindful in two situations: every time he walks through a door and every time he takes someone’s blood pressure. One is a moment of transition, the other a moment of stillness.
At Capital Choir we are singing a powerful new song — music by Felicia Edgecombe, words by Jeffrey Paparoa Holman. Here’s the poem.
After the tremor
after the tremor the neighbour
after the terror the stranger
after the stranger the doctor
after the doctor the soldier
after the soldier the looter
after the looter the vulture
after the horror the ruins
after the ruins the kindness
after the kindness the sirens
after the sirens the silence
after the silence the weeping
after the weeping the comfort
after the toppling the creaking
after the shaking the shaking
after the shaking the questions
after the rage and courage
after profound desolation
after the nurse and the undertaker
we stand and we drink from a glass of water
— (c) Jeffrey Paparoa Holman
See that last line? The people of Christchurch know what a privilege this is. The poem forces us through a relentless sequence of events and feelings experienced by Christchurch people during the last few years. The horror began with a massive earthquake that shattered the city, but that was only the start of hell time.
We stand and we drink from a glass of water.
Stability. Water. We take them for granted, most of the time. For older people, stability and water are even more precious. Sometimes when I stand and drink from a glass of water, I try to think of nothing else. I look at the water—what an amazing modern blessing, clean clear water running out of a tap! And the glass—perfect, it works! I’m standing firm and straight and steady. The ground is firm. God I’m lucky!
These are mindful moments, refreshing, stabilising. A flash of awareness incites gratitude. And how much time do they take? None, because we have to drink water anyway—especially when we are older.
Image from The Art of the Dresden Gallery (1907) by Julia de Wolf Gibbs