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I love listening to piano music, especially if it involves watching the person playing. The ability to do something different with each hand at the same time creating such beauty is a marvel to me. I took piano lessons once for about eight months when I was teaching school. I gave it up, thinking that my teacher, my colleague, could better spend her time with someone or something else because I could never find enough time for sufficient practice. Now I appreciate the skill even more than I did before those eight months when I was 31 years of age.

On Monday of this week I sat with a group of spiritual seekers to talk about our particular spiritual practices. We came to the conclusion that almost anything can fit that category, depending upon the motivation and consciousness with which it is performed. It’s the regular practice that is the key.

This morning I read a quote by Pablo Casals (1876-1973), a maestro who knew the value of practice, not only in order to play the piano, but also to live a full life. He said this: For the past eighty years I have started each day in the same manner. It is not a mechanical routine but something essential to my daily life. I go to the piano and play two preludes and fugues of Bach. I cannot think of doing otherwise. It is a sort of benediction on the house. But that is not its only meaning for me. It is a rediscovery of the world of which I have the joy of being a part. It fills me with awareness of the wonder of life, with a feeling of the incredible marvel of being a human being.

As I look out my window every morning (hoping each time I travel to find such a gift as well), I find a peace that comes to my eyes and my heart just to recognize that – even as the wind bends the branches of the tallest tree, even as last summer’s grass lies yellowish-brown or covered in snow on the ground, whether the sky is brilliant magenta or emptying its buckets of rain – I am here and the world goes on as it will, always turning and traveling its given course through our universe. Looking out and giving thanks has become my simplest, most essential spiritual practice. What is yours?