My daughter and granddaughter recently visited from back East. This is the first grandchild in our family so it's been a while since I've spent any time around someone so young.

My daughter and granddaughter recently visited from back East. This is the first grandchild in our family so it's been a while since I've spent any time around someone so young.

During the visit I kept thinking about how she has a "clean slate." I watched her taking in the world around her as she was discovering things for the first time. Dividing her mobility between crawling and walking I could feel her fascination for the present moment. This was also apparent when she was trying new and different foods. Although children that are 13 months old don't have very long attention spans, the moments that they are focused on something have got to be totally intense.

Speaking of intense, when was the last time you took care of a toddler? It seems like they need your undivided attention. They are either getting into something or needing something constantly. So, with all this said, imagine the void that was left when that portion of the family departed for home. When I first noticed this void I was surprised by it and the painful emptiness that I felt. Then I had the realization that there was a unity, that all the connectedness that seemed to have vanished was somehow still inside of me.

Now I'm not going to judge it as good or bad but instead I'm going to see it as an experience and ask "what was that all about and where is the peace that can be gained from this?" As I look out at the world and think that I am in truth spirit, I experience the world before me as really being in my awareness, inside of what I really am. For me this means that the fascination of the world, the experience of the present moment and the joy of awareness should all be there should I choose to partake in them.

I recall a place in the Bible where it mentions entering the kingdom of heaven as a child. This has nothing to do with physical age. Instead it is referring to a state of mind. Perhaps if I could somehow "clean my slate," I could once again feel the same fascination for the world around me, but how is this accomplished? What is it that is in my mind but thoughts, and what are all these thoughts about?

By examining my thoughts, I see memories of my past full of desires and fears. These are all based on judgments I have made about what I think I need or what would happen if ... . They are basically what I use to make myself a separate self. My thoughts, my identity, my little world.

But what would happen if I were to look at these in a new light? When I see my memories as judgments and can let them go, forgive them, will this erase them one by one from my slate? I feel that it will. Forgiveness is the eraser that I'm looking for. This is not the "you did something to me but I'll let it go this time." It's more like the opportunity to let go of my judgments, to choose joy and peace, to be more open to the awareness to the world around me. By choosing this, I start to understand the expression of what it means to be selfless because by being selfless I experience more of the unity of what is and can let my little world go.

Now, as I look back on my granddaughter's visit, I don't see the loss of her leaving but instead I feel more the moments that I was around her. I also have gratitude for the lesson I learned and the experience of oneness or unity that I feel inside me. Yes, inside is where peace really resides.

The Ashland Daily Tidings invites residents of the Rogue Valley to submit articles on all aspects of inner peace including intuition, guidance, mind training, courage, fearlessness, friendship, forgiveness, honesty, patience, open-mindedness, giving, receiving, tolerance, faithfulness, kindness, gratitude, challenges of addictions, loss, grief, pain, awareness of presence and more. Send 600- to 700-word articles to Sally McKirgan,