Living in the Present Moment
We are so easily distracted by our own agendas, our judgments and biases, our chattering minds, that we are seldom fully present to anyone we are with or anything that is happening. So often, because of our inattention, we are only hearing some of what is being said by the person we are with whether we know them or not, but we are missing the full story. It even happens in a marriage or with our children, when we’re not really paying attention to the one we love. So, what are we missing when we are only half-attentive? We don’t pick up the vibes from the person, the emotion that accompanies what they are saying, the subtle nuances in their being. We miss the complete picture before us when our intent is to be on our way or when we really don’t care about who they are or what they are talking about.
We also miss the deep spiritual connections between us, when our minds are not really present. The most help we can ever be to another person is to access the Holy Spirit within us, the Indwelling Spirit of God, who is love in us, who helps us to embrace the person(s) before us. We won’t know what this is like until we have prayed for a deep welcome for them and opened our heart to them. I was meeting a friend of mine at a restaurant recently and she was bringing someone she had met at the School of the Spirit near Charlotte, NC. As they entered the restaurant, they were surrounded by the Holy Spirit which stayed with us through the whole lunch. And when that Spirit is present, everything that is said is highlighted and the connectedness to the other people or person is sealed! It is a wonder-filled /incredible experience when that happens.
What if all our encounters could bring us such joy and Spirit no matter where they happened or for what purpose? They would enrich our lives so much as we learn to stay in the present moment, first by praying for the encounter before or as it happens. Secondly, we set aside our own agendas and surrender to the moment by moment conversation. Thirdly, we stay in tune with the connectedness that the Spirit brings to us and also attend to whatever He is telling us to think or say as the conversations unveils. Our lives change their primary focus when we learn how to live in the present moment: we live into our deeper, truer selves and live in the grace of God.
Everything else in our lives that we can’t be present to fades away. Can we be present to the newest thing we just bought? Will materialism ever fulfill us in any way? Or does it just leave us aching for the next new thing on our list? Will our distractedness ever fulfill us? Will our anxiety ever bring us peace? No, materialism, distraction, and anxiety just mean that we will never be present to anyone, including ourselves, that we will miss so much of the richness of life. Will our culture’s preoccupation with setting firm goals and charging after them ever fulfill us? No, all this belongs to the surface of our minds and excludes our hearts and souls. Only the deeper reaches of our being and our ability to be present to God and to the person that we were really created to be will bring us fulfillment and love.
What it takes to be present to the person or people with us is love. That’s how it is experienced by the other(s). We are gifting to others the love of God, not our fickle human kind of love. When we can love ourselves exactly as we are, then we can pass on God’s love to everyone else. And they can feel God’s love as well. It is transforming all of us at the same time.
If you are interested in experiencing the presence of God or being present to other people, try Centering Prayer or other meditative form. It is in sitting quietly that we meet God; as Psalm 46 puts it: “Be still and know that I am God” (v. 10). It takes quite a bit of practice and daily sitting to teach us to not to be distracted by our thoughts. If you are interested in experiencing the presence of God and your own presence to the people you’re with and the life that you have, check out the spiritual practices on my website. The more we practice meditation/Centering Prayer in particular, the more we will experience the presence of God and we can then be present to life, too.
Questions to ponder over the week: Have I ever experienced living in the presence of God or in the fullness of present moment. What would I have to give up in order to experience the richness that it offers? Can I even imagine what it would it be like to really see the person I am with my whole being—heart, mind, soul, and body?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who have surrendered enough of ourselves—our suffering, our priorities, all that we have learned from this culture and the world—that we can now be present to our lives, to God, and to everyone we meet.
Check out my two websites: patsaidadams.com and deepeningyourfaith.com.
- I am giving away a 10-week journaling guide to Jesus’s Two Great Commandments. If you are interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will email it to you, free of charge.
- My latest books, “Called to Help the Poor and Needy” and “A Study Guide to the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount” are now in bookstores and on line. The first is about the more than 2,000 verses in the Bible which detail God’s instructions for caring for those in need. The second is a journaling/pondering guide to Jesus’s most complete sermon.