I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Marianne Patrevito’s reflection “Being Present to the Process.”
In the first light of an early spring morning, I stood looking out of my kitchen window. Resting my eyes on the creek bordering our yard, I see glimpses of geese floating in the still, cold water. Inhaling the quiet peaceful time of a few mindful moments, I pause. Reflecting, I am infused with the grace of dawn breaking as I listen for the sounds and sights coming to life in this new day. It was a moment of presence. A moment to savor.
Each new day allows us to begin again. Each new day continues with the process of life, and we are invited into the unknowing, the letting go, and allowing the flow of process. Process releases the “need to know,” and being present to process is a practice.
So often, I want to know, to be certain, to have the answer. I so desire to analyze and reach the end result. I find I am more patient with others, than with myself when it comes to understanding why, getting a test result or trying to untangle my thoughts. Those are not times of presence for me.
Years back, when I entered into the family of Monks in the World, I so wanted to jump right in and be all that I needed to be in belonging to this online monastery. That was over ten years back, and I continue to be engulfed in cultivating presence as I walk this path step by step. One avenue is through journaling.
When I wake in the morning, I open my journal, and the words, thoughts and feelings that have inhabited the tissues of my being, come spilling out onto the page. Maybe the events of the previous day, perhaps a dream, or future plans. Writing allows my thoughts that have been hiding backstage to lift the curtain of my mind and move forward and release. Emotions are welcome here, too, exposing unhealed wounds that have traveled with me from the past or fresh feelings that have stormed my heart. This is the place where I am challenged with the difficult questions of life and of myself. It is where my raw truth of who I am, comes forth. My journal is my sacred space, a place that is both sanctuary and confessional. A place where I am able to be present to the process.
Visual creative art forms are yet another place where I am called to remember the importance of process. It is here that I need to refresh my mind to presence. I so often get entangled in seeing the end product. It is here where I am tempted to compare my work, my finished product, and myself to others, enlarging the pit of blame and shame. However, when I let go and turn toward process, I become lost in a world of flow and growth. I become one with my materials and together we enter the dance of creation. I move into the art form, allowing my body, mind and spirit to unwind, as I twirl in the midst of paper, ink and paint. The process is what makes my heart sing.
So many times, however, I am influenced by all that greets me in nature.
Often I walk in the woods and as I take in my surroundings my eyes may fall on the details of the forest bed. Perhaps a nurse log covered in lush green moss, or fungi draw me in to capture its essence with my camera. Noticing the process of life so evident in this cathedral of the earth, as tall trees hover over deciduous logs that rest upon the ground. While young saplings break through the earth all around, providing yet another process of hope. The full circle of life, one cycle nourishing another.
Birds returning to nests, small creatures scampering and the flow of the creek, all entering and lingering in the process of their lives. All being present to what lies before them.
Whether it be an art form or life itself, being present and leaning into the process, not product, is a different way of living. For me, it has been a more authentic path, allowing the truth of who I am to emerge. Staying present is both calming and nourishing to my body, mind and spirit. When I am in that space, I am fully engaged in all of life. By being present and entering the process of life, I am able to inhale fully. It is here, where I am reminded so often that I will never be finished. I am called into this practice as I am called into all of my other practices each day, practicing the presence of process. Practicing life.
Marianne Patrevito is a wife and mother of five adult children and two grandchildren, who resides in Hinsdale, Illinois. She is a Spiritual Director. Her meditative and healing practices include visual art, writing, walking, and yoga. She can be reached through her email, firstname.lastname@example.org.