The other day at the park I witnessed a beautiful act of love. I was so moved by the experience that it filled my heart. It grew me. There was a couple walking. They were very elderly. The woman’s legs were like fragile sticks. I had never seen legs that small on a person. Her husband had both his hands lovingly on her hips, carrying the bulk of her weight. Yet he let her walk, he gave her her steps. She moved her feet, though they were one while walking in the park. It took quite a little while but they did a full circle around the fountain. One tiny shuffle step at a time. They were dressed immaculately, as if they were on a date. I was certain the man had made sure of this. They both wore bright pressed clothes, clean white shirts. The woman in blue floral print pants. Her hair was as white as the clouds, and every bit as soft. I was drawn to them. I longed to go over and say hello but this was their moment. I was simply graced with the gift of observing it. Since then I have thought of returning to the park to see if I may see them again. It wouldn’t surprise me if the walk in the park was a favorite outing.
The treasure for me in this experience was in the adoring love that I witnessed. The value in sharing what I saw, is that I realize some folks might see this scene play out and feel sad, or associate the woman’s frail health with pain or fear. I want to say I could clearly see the beauty that this simple walk held for both of them. I saw their entire life together in each step—each precious foot-fall. Care of life is what I saw. I feel empathy with the man because he was in the position to provide the care. That said, I could also see his empowerment and brilliance in doing so. And I feel certain he will have that brilliance in each step up to and including the last breath.
I will never forget that walk in the park. I will let it guide me to be present, to make every act a sacred act, to honor those I love right where they are. I will remember the empowerment of a bright clean shirt and the beauty of the present moment regardless of the condition it takes.
These wise and wonderful people have seen much of this world. Of course they have, in their own lifetimes, experienced youth, family, marriage, loss, pain, triumph, and an endless opportunity to learn. It was beautifully apparent that they lived well.
After the man carefully helped his beloved into the simple red minivan he then drove away as slowly as they walked. I wondered if perhaps neither one really wanted to leave the park, though the walk had been completed. It was a perfect lap around the fountain. They had made the circle. As they drove away no one could know if that was the last walk they would have, but I know it was a memorable one.
We each have the ability and the heart of presence to live our lives with quality. No matter what our lives are—they are our own. Our relationships, our actions, what we settle for in our thoughts, or our responses, all present us the opportunity to live well. We have the power to see love, even in the last hour. And maybe, as my friends at the park demonstrated, especially in the last hour. I know that this couple practiced presence their whole life, because one doesn’t become a master without practice.