My God, I look at the creek. It is the answer to Merton's prayer, ":Give us time!" It never stops. If I seek the senses and skill of children, the information of a thousand books, the innocence of puppies, even the insights of my own city past, I do so only, solely, and entirely that I might look well at the creek. You don't run down the present, pursue it with baited hooks and nets. You wait for it, empty-handed, and you are filled. You'll have fish left over. The creek is the one great giver. It is, by definition, Christmas, the incarnation. This old rock planet gets the present for a present on its birthday every day.
The English professor in me always wants to contextualize the passages that I choose from Dillard. I usually spend the first paragraph of every post simply explaining where she's coming from, whether she's camping out in the woods or petting a puppy at a gas station. I feel the obligation to provide background so that these passages make complete sense. I teach my students to do the same thing with their research projects. It's not enough to simply drop a quote into the middle of a discussion and expect it to stand on its own. Context is everything.
That being said, I don't think that the above Dillard passage really needs much explanation. It's about not fretting over the past or losing sleep over the future. Accepting the present as a present. Really, that's all humans have. Tomorrow is no guarantee, and yesterday is already floating downstream on its way to the ocean.
If you haven't noticed, I tend to focus more on the future than the present. For example, last night I was worrying about the possibility of not having classes to teach next semester. I imagined having to sell my new car, bumming rides with friends to work, and buying a bus pass. My daughter had to drop out of her dance classes, and my son had to stop taking his ADHD medicine because it was too expensive. Yes, I thought of all of these things. By the time I reached defaulting on my home mortgage, I was in a state of panic. All this over a rumor of a possibility.
So, this evening, I am not going to think about next semester or next month. I'm not going to wonder about next week or tomorrow even. I am teaching Intro to Film tonight. Citizen Kane. It's one of my favorite films, and I plan to enjoy the moment, right down to the last glimpse of Rosebud being thrown into the furnace. That's going to be my present for today.
Saint Marty has never liked sledding all that much.