“Don’t wish it away; don’t wish it ahead,” my friend said to me in our conversation over a year ago. That statement has been running in my life narrative ever since. At times it is very evident at other times it hits me like a lightning bolt which strikes the earth. In other words be present, be here – be now. How often I forget this as I look ahead; plan ahead or dream ahead. How often I forget this when I look back with regret; look back with longing for those moments or look back wondering why.
Over the course of the last few days I have been reminded of the gift of the now; the present and how this moment builds towards an unknown future (which is okay) and my willingness to trust in God’s will.
I was reminded of the gift of now in a photo captured of two of my nephews together – caught up in a silly moment their faces lit up with great joy, very present to each other. They were not wishing it away; they were together as brothers – a gift in a moment that no one could take away from them.
I was reminded of this gift as I held a cup of tea and sipped it and that was simply all I was doing. Present in a moment – simply there – not planning, worrying or multi-tasking.
I was reminded of the gift of now in a walk and conversation with a Franciscan Brother of mine. A walk always makes us present to the moment, doesn’t it? No place to go in particular – simply walking in tune with where we are. The conversation involved us looking back on the journey and also discussing the future which cemented for me the need to present here and now in my current place and time. To give of myself for my current situation is being open to God’s will and creating steps for what is to come and not simply wishing it ahead.
I was reminded of the gift of now by being in a different location from regular day to day life. This caused me to heighten my senses of what is around me, who is around me and how I can be in this moment. In helping someone, in listening to someone, in sitting in quiet, in reading, in being nourished by song, sacrament and scripture I was caught up in a moment to simply be.
Life is continually throwing curve balls. We are constantly pulled out of the here and now to deal with past events or plan for something coming up. I don’t believe these curve balls are there to knock us off our grounding. I now can see them as ways to draw me into the present moment. What do I/we need in this moment to be able to walk well into the next moment? What do I/we need to being doing and to be aware of not to wish it away or ahead? What do I/we need to be caught up in God’s love and be aware of God’s will in this moment?
It is here that I am drawn to the gospel of Mark (12.28-34) and maybe for the first time I see the wisdom of the true commandments to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength” and to “love your neighbour as yourself” as the gift of being present. To love God ad love my neighbour means I am present. To love God and love my neighbour awakens me to the moment not what is to come or what was. To realize that God is here and now in this moment as I type of this, or the moment of the walk or in the moment my two nephews shared is the awareness of the gift and commandment to love. Loving God and loving neighbour demands me to be present not wishing it away or wishing it ahead. It is God here and now – God with us – God our Emmanuel. Loving God with all my heart is a beautiful gift which opens me up to deeper trust and openness to live God’s will. Loving my neighbour is a beautiful gift which empowers me to be a vessel for God; which I pray to be each day. The greatest gift of this love (and commandment to love) is that they are here and now, as they were in the paths already trod and in the journey to come. There is no hesitation in this love there is only presence and being present. How will I choose to be present today? How will I choose to fill the commandment to love?
For the gift of the now,
O Lord, I am every grateful.
Grateful that you are present
with me and calling me to love
and that you show me your love.
Grateful for the gift of life
and to see you here and now.
God – me – love – present – now.
God – us – love – present – now.