This quote is from the book Learning to Fall, The Blessings of an Imperfect Life. The book was written during his journey with ALS and published just months before his death in 2002. The book is full of observations on life in the woods of New Hampshire which inspire wisdom about living with impending death.
“We all stand at the edge. The present moment is itself an edge, this evanescent sliver of time between past and future. We’re called away from it continually by our earthly pleasures and concerns. . . . Seems it’s always time to be doing something other than we are doing at the moment. . . . .
The present moment, like the spotted owl or the sea turtle, has become an endangered species. Yet more and more I find that dwelling in the present moment, in the face of everything that would call us out of it, is our highest spiritual discipline. More boldly, I would say that our very presentness is our salvation; the present moment, entered into fully is our gateway to eternal life.
Now, when I say this, you could accuse me of being a mystic. And I am, but of a very ordinary kind. I don’t doubt that some people throughout history, and some living today have heard voices and seen visions. But my mysticism does not involve access to other realms, only the deeper experiences of this one. Mine is the mysticism of everyday life, of the heaped laundry and the bruised toe, of overcooked broccoli and leaves spangled with dew, of sunrise and sorrow, laughter and linguine, music and mold. This everyday mysticism requires no special powers, only imagination, a doting and practiced attention to the ordinary, a willingness to be surprised by grace.”