Seeing the Blossom: Reflections on opening to the nowness of everything

In March 1994 Melvyn Bragg did a celebrated interview with the playwrite Dennis Potter, who was then dying of cancer. The interview was later published under the title Seeing the Blossom. Dennis Potter spoke of how the imminence of death gave his experience of the world a heightened intensity. “At this season, the blossom is out in full now … and instead of saying ‘Oh that’s nice blossom’ … last week looking at it through the window when I’m writing, I see it is the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be, and I can see it. The nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous, and if people could see that, you know. There’s no way of telling you; you have to experience it, but the glory of it, if you like, the comfort of it, the reassurance. Not that I’m interested in reassuring people – bugger that. The fact is, if you see the present tense, boy do you see it! And boy can you celebrate it.”

There have been times in my own life when to use Dennis Potter’s term I have experienced  “The nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous”   I have often found that these moments are not big and dramatic, but quite ordinary in their beauty and wonder. I remember in the last few weeks before my girlfriend Elaine died, we had managed to get away for a weekend break at a hotel in the lake district. One afternoon we sat on a bench together in the hotel garden. As the autumn light began to fade, from the hedgerows and trees small birds flew about serenading us with their birdsongs. In that moment I felt a sense of wonder and mystery in the ordinary beauty of it all. This simple moment sitting on the bench with Elaine, felt like a calling to pause, connect and come home to myself once again. For a brief moment all my anxieties an fears fell away.  This is a quality of  just being open to the present moment without trying to add to it, allowing the bare experience to be there, fully attending to it in a relaxed open awareness, tasting an aliveness, a vibrancy from the awareness of our lives as they unfold moment by moment.

Often these ordinary moments go unseen or unacknowledged. But if we are willing to honour these simple moments then just maybe the ordinary will come alive.