A Woman's Voice

Grateful to be Mindful — December 4, 2010 by Jeremy Angus

Posted in A WOMAN'S VOICE,WORDS OF WISDOM ~ A MAN'S VOICE by doloresayotte on December 4, 2010
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Day 14 – of Jeremy’s Journal   

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” Thich Nhat Hanh

It’s a beautiful quote from a gentle, beautiful writer. Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us to be grateful of the marvel of life, to be mindful of our presence within the miracle.  I urge you to find his books and read them.  His words rhythmically lap against your soul as lake waves on a shore. 

Tonight I didn’t get home until about 7:30pm.  Where I work, at Manitoba’s Emergency Management Organization, we are normally not doing much emergency management-wise this time of year beyond research, planning, meetings and the like.  But it’s been busy lately.  Just the last 3 weeks we’ve been hammered by a once in a lifetime “Weatherbomb” event with hurricane force winds wreaking havoc, a few river communities are flooding while the snow falls and rivers freeze-up, and now an avian influenza outbreak at a turkey breeding farm that could be minor or perhaps otherwise.  Busy, busy. So it goes sometimes.  

After we played with our daughter, Elena, gave her a bath and put her to sleep, I got layered up and went out to shovel the drive again, as it just won’t stop snowing.  I could think of a dozen other things I would have rather done, but I have to admit, it was nice to be out, breathing the cool air, watching light snow still fall, working my muscles.  It all roused memories and associations of being a child doing happy activities outside, in the dark and in the snow.  

I couldn’t get away from this task as it had to be done, as most responsibilities in a day cannot be avoided.  So instead I decided to embrace it; I consciously chose to practice mindfulness while shovelling.  

A million thoughts floated in and out of my mind as I pushed the white stuff, and I just observed each one and let it go.  I gradually became aware of that same calm awareness I noticed while fasting this week. 

I thought about a lot of things, but eventually a thought-thread developed that I followed for the rest of this labour.  I consciously asked myself what I was doing with this experiment in spirituality.  What was I expecting or hoping to get out of it? Do other people think about topics like spirituality and mortality and God and where we come from before birth, or where we go to after death?  Or am I a lunatic in a minority?  Do the masses consider such things, or does something have to happen in your life to trigger these questions?  I know from experience that once you ask yourself the questions, you have a difficult time going on without a satisfactory answer.  I wasn’t so much philosophizing here as much as I was just observing my train of thought as it bumped along.

When I was a young lad, I never doubted God or questioned who I am or why we’re here.  As a boy and into my teenage years, I believed the things I was told in church and school and home and this was a potent thing: with the power of faith I had no questions, and therefore sought after no answers.  

I cringe out a smile now to remember how dedicated I was, how genuine and fearless my love was for God.  Maybe I’m jealous of the kid I was then, feet firmly marching forward on the sacred path through the fullness of life.  There was no endgame to my efforts – it was just a part of who I was as a person. 

When my brother Geoffrey died, a number of things happened.  The first thing was I denounced my faith in God.  I remember it as if it was only an hour ago.  Everyone was gathered in town at my grandparents place, and I was brought there to hear the news.  When someone says or writes that their heart shattered into a thousand pieces, this is not a metaphor.  To hear those words, “Geoffrey’s dead,” – well, I tell you, my heart shattered into a thousand little pieces onto the floor, and I further trampled those shards of heart into dust as I ran out the door.  I was traumatized; he was my best friend, my hero, my mentor, my rock and my protector.  And by some sick manipulation of Life, he was no more. 

I ran and hid in the shadows behind the gas station down the street. I just crumpled to my knees, like tossed rags of sorrow.  Never had I experienced such anguish and ache before.  I couldn’t take it – everything came gushing out of me. I exploded into tears and let go horrible, droning howls, all that was in my stomach projected out; these bodily fluids, my worldview and my faith all blended into a mush on the ground.  I covered my release with dead leaves and pulled myself to standing.  So much anger – I feared I might self-combust if I didn’t do something.  I started punching the brick wall and vowed to chase God down and expose him as a fraud for ever allowing such a thing to happen.  I smashed my fist to a bloodied pulp against those bricks, but it still did not take away from the excruciating ache inside.  By then my friends found me.  Of course they didn’t know what to do, but they put their hands on me anyway.  I let them.  I gave up, and let them quietly lead me back to the house. 

When Geoffrey died, a cosmic piece of me died too.  I morphed into an unbearably sad young man. Maybe some of you reading this can remember.  I wasn’t sure I could live with this new poison; I was terrified to allow myself to love again with all my heart.  I was not strong enough to go through that another time.  I did everything I could to put off going to sleep each night.  I feared my dreams, and besides, I would just have to wake up and face another long day.  I stopped going to Church with my mother; this I know tore her hemorrhaging heart even more.  I stopped thinking there was a God or caring if he/she existed.  Maybe God existed, maybe not; I no longer cared either way.  

Then I turned to alcohol.  For the next few years I gave it my finest effort to drink myself into a stupor.  I wanted to become comatose.  I wanted to become an idiot who, even if I wanted, could no longer care, could no longer think haughty thoughts about life and my place in it.  These were sad days, and I fell until I could fall no more. Let me tell you, it’s a lonely, despairing place, down at the bottom.  May you never see it in your life. 

But then the second thing happened. Life is a beautiful and glorious mystery, a swirl of endless miracles, and for reasons unknown to me, Jaime came along with an unwavering smile and a heart heaving with love.  She led my wretched soul out of the darkness and off the self-destructive path I had chosen; she fostered me back into a human being.  She saved my life, and she gave me a reason to care and to believe and to try again.  I owe her everything and I’ll never forget that. 

About the time Jaime came into my life, my mother also quietly intervened and convinced me to go to university.  This is the third thing that happened.  I discovered books; I met smart people with great ideas and remembered that I’m a smart person with great ideas too.  I started to experience light back in my world again.  My mother and my wife helped me avoid my catastrophic iceberg, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

So I followed this thought-thread as I shoveled. I was mindful of all of it and watched it float along in my mind like a movie.  I wasn’t daydreaming or unaware of where I was or what I was doing.  On the contrary; I was very much aware, and I was relishing what was happening.  

A series of events, both tragic and beautiful, occurred to make me into the sort of person who today works very hard to be more spiritual, more compassionate, more mindful of life and its miracles.  I consider myself fortunate. 

My thought-thread took me on to contemplate these ideas further.  I thought about my closest friend Graham, and his father Bill.  After a valiant battle against cancer, Bill passed on in February of this year.  At every funeral I ever attended since my brother’s, my tears were always still for my brother, except at Bill’s funeral.  My tears were for him.  My closest friend’s father was like a father to me too, and I mourned. 

Afterwards, something Graham shared with me stuck with me, perhaps it’ll stick forever.  Graham stayed home with his father for about two years, as every good son wishes they could in such a situation.  There were a lot of nights in the house, I’m sure, of just sitting around letting time go by rather than talk about difficult topics like death and such.  But one night they did.  Graham asked Bill what he thought was next for him, with cancer in his body and death close by.  Bill looked at Graham, shrugged his shoulders, and said he had no clue.  He had never thought about it, and figured it was too late to begin thinking about it now.  

Bill was wonderfully kind, generous and often hilarious.  The world could use more great men such as him.  Why didn’t he have an answer to Graham’s questions?  Why didn’t he feel the urge to ever contemplate God and his soul?  I don’t know. 

If you are a person who does ask yourself similar questions as I, please realize they are the most important questions of all.  If you are genuine in your dedication to spiritual pursuits, share it with the world.  Don’t be an evangelist or a recruiter or a preacher; just be honest and open and true to yourself.  For years I wondered what people would think if I explored and pursued spirituality in such an open forum as the world-wide-web, and the answer is, it’s the right way.  I’ve only heard positive comments.  We all have a light to share and the world needs more light these days than ever.  

I’m telling you from my own experience:  share your light; it’ll only brighten someone else’s way.

Thanks Jeremy.  I was so touched by your story that I felt very moved to share it. I’m happy I discovered your blog site.   To learn more about Jeremy please visit: http://pathwaytoenlightenment.com


4 Responses to 'Grateful to be Mindful — December 4, 2010 by Jeremy Angus'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Grateful to be Mindful — December 4, 2010 by Jeremy Angus'.

  1. Fred Ayotte said,

    I really enjoyed your blog. God is always there for us….just in unexpected ways. All we have to do is have faith.

  2. Sarah said,

    very touching and powerful post. I believe too in sharing our light. Thanks for doing that here….in this post. ☺

  3. hope_rising said,


    this is a beautiful story and an amazing testimony to the resillience of the human spirit. I too have found myself being mindful and living daily tasks as acts of prayer. I am not a church goer or a subscriber to any particular religion, but I do feel that in the past few years I have an enormous resource in faith and spirituality that I have to come to rely on. I think it is very true that you don’t know how or who you are or what you know can effect another person ….. you just never know and each person is worth the investment of your kindness…

    great post!

  4. Susan said,

    I really enjoyed your post. It takes you to the depths of despair and lifts you up to the heights of glory. Poignant and powerful.

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