Presence

There are times when I sit down to write and I have a pretty good idea of what the piece will look like when I’m done. This is not one of those times. It may end up being one of those essays I share with a few friends and tuck into the back of my blog; then again, it may see the light of day as the sun burns through the mist and lifts onto a new day.

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Mist. I often forget the beauty of my farm in the morning, especially this time of year, as the mist settles into the small valleys we have and then gently begins to lift. All too often, I make a note of the beauty but rush to accomplish the tasks of the day. This morning was different. From the window of my hovel, I saw the mist against the trees in the distance.   I strolled onto the hill, took the photo, and enjoyed the beauty of the present. Magical…

There is beauty in the moment that is all too often overlooked. I believe most Westerners, and certainly most Americans, are oriented to the future. We get wrapped up in the “what’s it going to be like” mentality, the planning of success, the desire for more. When we are fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of the moment, it’s brief. We are constitutionally unable to hold it for long – the future beckons.

I love the prayer Jesus taught his disciples. It is brief, yet economy of words doesn’t equate to poverty of meaning. Jesus asks us to live in the moment of the day – “give us our daily bread.” He tells us to forgive in order to be forgiven – “and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Jesus calls us to live each day with a clean slate; make your worries small and your heart generous.

I’m now well entrenched into my “middle ages.” My worries are not small. My generosity for forgiveness is under repair. It’s simply earth-shaking to wake up one day and discover you’re the Pharisee you’ve always preached against; to realize that I am the “eldest son” in Christ’s parable of the Prodigal. And then to grapple with the fact that the first person on the list to forgive is yourself.

Choice and change are the currencies of life. Change will occur; the choice of how to handle it will dictate who you become. My choice is to begin to live more in the Present. I’m encouraged to do this by friends who are already there – “Future cares have future cures…” a friend shared with me (from Sophocles). While we need plans to move ahead with the future, we live in the moment with family, friends, and ourselves.

The Christmas season, a time that should bring joy because of it’s profound message of peace and reconciliation is often the time of tremendous stress, anxiousness, and depression, largely because we are not at peace with ourselves, nor are we reconciled with others. I am quite frankly dreading the holiday season. I’m sure I’m not alone. How exactly does one manage a family situation that has become absolutely toxic?

My proposed solution is to live in the Present. To let the gift to myself and others be the gift of “Being There.” To let the future wait. And how does all this happen? Prayer.

Prayer is a wonderful thing really. While we pray about things past (forgiveness) and future (petition) we are wonderfully anchored to the present, in the presence of the God who lives in the eternal now. All things are “Present” before the Almighty. When we are able to be “Present” with ourselves and those around us, we extend the gift of God to them.

To those of you who read this, be present. Be present with yourself. Be present with others. Enjoy the life you’ve been blessed with. Breathe deep, don’t let important things go unsaid because of fear, live secure in the knowledge that we are all loved. That is what this season is all about.