After a recently rare and welcomed pleasurable day, I bemoaned to a good friend: “Why can’t the enjoyable things and people in our lives last forever?” He kindly offered this corrective: “You do have the here-and-now you know.”
He’s right. We live in the three time frames of past, present, and future. Past memories, pleasant and painful, are a treasure. Planning for the future builds hope. But we can, oh so easily, let those two dimensions diminish the reality of the here-and-now.
A fellow chaplain shared the personal story of his family’s trip to meet another family for ice cream. Every few miles and minutes, his young son asked the perennial question of impatience: “Are we there yet?” Finally the exasperated Dad curtly replied to his son: “Don’t you understand we’ll never be ‘there.’ We’re always going to be ‘here.’ As soon as we arrive at ‘there’ we are actually ‘here.’ His understandably frustrated son then responded to this unwelcomed sermonette: “You mean we’re not going to get ice cream?”
The ice cream was soon enjoyed. On the road, the son’s past experiences elicited joyful remembrances. Anticipation of an additional pleasing consumption followed. But Dad was right: we always, only, have ‘here’. Paradoxically, when we allow ourselves to focus on ‘here’, our narrow perspectives broaden.
Being fully in the here-and-now means acute awareness of our inner voices. We calm our tumultuous thoughts and emotions. We know beyond doubt we are part of the God-created universe. We notice little things that are easily overlooked as important: the ability to breathe, move and think, the chirping of a nature appreciating bird, the unmerited favor of warm friendships and supportive family, the
sustenance of food and water, the crystalline sounds of soul-stirring music.
I’m at a place in my journey that cries out for these calming moments. Four family members have died within a two year span. That harsh reality shatters my heretofore false sense that family would always remain the same. No promise was
ever made that it would be so, yet I tended to live with that presumptive myth.
Paula D’Arcy strikingly realized that we have choices in our spiritual journey either to cling to others or to hold them. Her husband and daughter died in a car wreck when Paula was three months pregnant. Six months later, she desired but could not deliver her baby naturally. At that point God helped her understand her clutching psyche was desperately preventing delivery. With this epiphany, she gave birth to her daughter while being wheeled into an operating room.
Reflectively she states: As I look at my newborn, I see that she is a girl. She is mine to hold, but not to possess. It makes all the difference. You treat a gift differently than you do a possession. (The Gift of the Red Bird)
Lord God, You made us complex, multi-dimensional beings. With grateful hearts we journey with You, One whose name is “I Am”– God of the precious present. Walk with us, Lord, as we seek to live, really live, in the here-and-now You’ve provided. Amen.
Author: Virgil Fry