About my last post, Struggling to live in the present, Joe and Linda ask good questions about experiences common to so many of us. I'll address Joe's today, and Linda's later. He asks: Is it possible to have more that a brief moment during the day to enjoy being in the presence of our creator?
The experience Joe asks about is common to nearly all of us. We may have brief glimpses of real beauty and wonder, then live oblivious to it all in the push and pull of daily life until we collapse at day's end--too numb to seek God at all. We're not cloistered monks. We live beyond the sacred wall, amid the hustle and bustle of urban life. Few of us can change that, and there's no reason we should. But we can change is how we experience the busyness.
Is busyness an obstacle to enjoying the presence of our creator, or is our active life an opportunity to open more fully to the Presence Who is always present?
A true Christian spirituality (as with Buddhism, Sufism, and other spiritual traditions) affirms the latter. The former view will leave us frustrated, but the latter awakens us to the presence of God who is always right here, right now. The present is, frankly, all we have. And the presence is where we encounter God. But we're often so fixated on the past, or anxious about the future that we're anywhere but the place (the only place!) we can meet God.
I'm in favor of periods of stillness and silence and solitude. Gobs of it. But I'm not in favor of using stillness as an escape. Moments of ecstasy in stillness or rapture before a sunset merely makes it possible for us to live with more attentiveness to the Presence in times chaos and fear and noise.
So . . .
- Take care not to experiencing the presence of God as an either/or thing.
- Awaken now.
- If you're harassed and harried right now, if this moment is an ugly one and you don't want to be here now, acknowledge it; wake up to that truth.
- Awareness of my experience of the present is the key to living in the present.