Friday, October 10, 2014

On Being Present

Yesterday was my twenty-sixth birthday. I had dinner with two friends, and one of them asked me what my goal was for my year of being twenty-six. I thought for a moment and responded, “I want to be more present.”

It seems simple, conceptually, but as most of us alive today know, it is very difficult, practically. I am no exception – I thrive on thinking ahead and planning and all of that. I think as human beings we are naturally drawn to what is ahead of us.

If that tendency manifests itself as hope, then I think we are on solid ground. But if that tendency manifests itself as a way of avoiding the current reality, and not engaging with the needs of the current time and place, then we may be missing the mark.

For example, Advent is approaching – it will be here in seven weeks. Advent is the season that I define as the season of hope. As we in the Christian church reflect on the hope of Israel for its promised Messiah, so we on this side of the Resurrection hope for the promised return of our King. I think Advent has always been my favorite liturgical season precisely because it resonates with my tendency to be forward-thinking, always making a plan and charting out the next steps.

I of course want to be hopeful for things large-scale and small-scale, from the things I have to accomplish on my next day at work, to my relationships with other people, to the long-term flourishing of the institutions I care about, and to my personal growth as a follower of Jesus.

I can overdo it, however – I speak from experience. If I have something I am eagerly anticipating on my calendar, whether in my professional life or my social life, it is sometimes difficult to focus on the mundane of the day to day.

But that “mundane” of the day to day is where Christ calls me to be. Not every day is going to be opening night or Christmas morning or wedding day or get-away day or launch day. But every day is a day when I can see the people around me – my family, my friends, my colleagues, and even the myriad of people I encounter for the merest sliver of time – and invest the mind, body, heart, and soul that God has given me to meet their needs. Every day is a day when I can, to borrow from the prophet Micah, do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with my God. Every day is a day when I can, to borrow from the prophet Jeremiah, seek the welfare of the city where the Lord has sent me into exile. Every day is a day when I can sit at the feet of Jesus, like Mary, and learn how to follow him more closely. Every day is a day when I can proclaim that the Kingdom of God is here – here in the every day, here in the present moment.

There is work – Kingdom work – to be done today, and I want to spend this year of being twenty-six not missing a moment!

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