Updated: Jun 15, 2020
The Gift of Being Present
We look with uncertainty
Beyond the old choices for
To a softer, more permeable aliveness
Which is every moment
At the brink of death;
For something new is being born in us
If we but let it
“I could die Thursday.”
Those were my waking thoughts on a Tuesday morning. I heard the sounds of birds and the rumble of the ocean, telling me that life was vibrant and alive on this Tuesday morning.
“Be present to this day,” I heard my inner voice declare. While my ego argued that one must plan ahead if one were going to jump out of a plane, I was more caught up in the anticipation of what I was about to do.
I’ve always wanted to experience the free-flying soar of a bird, unencumbered by airplane window rims and endless wing span. So in my sixtieth year on earth, it was time to give skydiving a shot.
“I’ll live life to the fullest, just in case,” I told God. “If you could send a reassuring sign that I should do this, that would really be great.”
I waited for the sign. Then, while driving a neighborhood road, a young buck pranced across the road foraging for food. A neighbor slowed traffic to keep it safe as we watched in awe of his strength and beauty. For most of my adult years, deer have been my animal spirit, representing grace and beauty and strength.
“Thank you, God” I whispered.
Colors deepened around the hills and the lush foliage of the coastal mountain range seemed just a bit more vibrant. Another thank you was sent upward.
I felt drenched in love. I knew I would jump.
There was no doubt in my mind that I would jump, it was fine. The signs were there, like a beautiful card sent by the Universe that the world was perfect and so was my decision. I felt drenched in love. I knew I would jump.
Waiver after waiver was initialed, disclaiming any liability of crushed skull, back, feet, or arms. Dying began to be a preferable outcome to the myriad of disabilities for which I could not blame the airfield. A whimper began in my belly and quickly ascended into my vocal cords as I read and signed my name.
“You are not selling me on this,” I squeaked.
“It’s a litigious society,” the airfield official brusquely retorted.
The mantra “Thy Will Be Done” began to chant in my head, repeating my desire to let God carry me in His hands. The plane climbed high and hovered against the blue sky. My prayer continued. It was honest. It was authentic. It was the letting go of my lifetime.
The large side panel of the plane opened with a clang, the cold air filled the cargo unit intrusively.
My tandem partner scooted me to the open panel and advised me to wrap my arms to my chest and lean my head back against him. “Thy Will Be Done,” I uttered.
I leaned back . . .
At thirteen thousand feet the air smells and tastes like ocean. Genesis tells of the firmament lifted from the earth’s waters into a canopy of heavens.
“It’s true,” my mind said as we sailed through the cold and salty sky, and the wind stippled my face with lightly tapping fingers.
There was no more thought of the future, no concept of the past. Falling through the air was an experience of being the present, and God carried me through the atmosphere as I gazed at the world with wide open eyes. Flying in partnership with the universe, the world greeted me with a cheer and a wave. My Mother, the earth, perfectly partnered with the clear blue sky, the far and wide stretch of green and brown patchwork ground. The majestic mountains bowed to me in welcome, and the sounds of silence with just a hush of wind caressing us, holding us as we flew unencumbered. There was no terror, simply peace at experiencing the world in its glory so completely.
When the parachute pulled me upright, I felt the sadness of endings. I would soon become earthbound once again.
There was a death that Thursday. It was a death to my fear of the unknown. The greatest gift was the resurrection to living completely in the moment, reminded lovingly of the wonder of a world that sustains us—even when we are too busy living to notice.