Living in the Present … in His Presence

The gift of life is the gift of presence. One of the ways we stray from God is by not being present to life.

Jan 21, 2022

The gift of life is the gift of presence. One of the ways we stray from God is by not being present to life. ~ Sr Macrina Wiederkehr

This quote led me to ruminate on Psalm 16:11. Is God my constant travelling companion on “my path of life” and my source of delight? Here’s a hard truth: My end begins now. A painful futuristic truth. Why dwell upon it in the present? Well, I must live well to die well. This means being mindful of how I presently live out this Godgiven life. Thomas Aquinas tells us that God is in all things “by his essence, presence, and power” – He is present in all things as the efficient cause of their being. St Paul declares, “God is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17: 27-28). How then am I BE-ING? Guilty of straying, I confess.

With patience often remaining a pursuit at large, “What next?” decidedly loomed large in my mind and defined my endless undertakings. Living in the moment? Too evanescent. Leaping from one moment to another meant something finished and ticked off the list with a flourish! And then some more …. Late did I pause to ruminate on the weightier things that encapsulated the timelessness of a moment: the significance of the moment, its quality, its joy. Was there a significant, loving, invisible ‘other’ cheering me on in that moment? Why did St Mother Teresa say, “Be happy in the moment, It’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more”? Because God graces each moment with His presence. But one needs spiritual vision to sense this. Sadly, one often strays and spiritually exiles oneself by negating His presence in the here and now, getting “lost in a dark wood” – Dante’s metaphor for sin.

Matthew 24:42 sets the alarm: stay awake and alert, be present and mindful at all times “… because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” James 4:14 harshly (but poetically!) pronounces the transitory nature of our life, “…you are a mist…” Gasp! Every moment counts! Literary luminaries must have been inspired by both the parabolic and explicit scriptural teachings of Jesus for Eckhart Tolle to say “Make NOW the primary focus of your life,” because now is all we have. Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life” (this inspired me to pen a verse in CANews Oct 2012), Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Alister McGrath’s “The Unknown God,” among others, variously point to this challenge and reward of acknowledging God’s presence in our moment-to-moment living as we walk towards Eternity.

Martha Graham sways in with, “All that is important is this one moment. Make the moment important, vital, and worth living. Do not let it slip away unnoticed and unused.” Thomas Merton says it best, “You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognise the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with encouragement, faith and hope.” Then, we will know, “the gate of heaven is everywhere.” Emily Dickinson reminds, “Forever is composed of nows.” Maya Angelou discloses, “Be present in all things and thankful for all things.” Check CCC Compendium #555.

Living fully in the present moment, be it a moment of jubilation or tribulation, is of equal significance. Rather than blame God for our moments of affliction, why not claim and acclaim God’s momentous presence in them and draw near to Him so that He will draw near to us (cf. James 4:8)? Nothing comes our way without first passing through His loving hands. When a moment of trial breaks us, it also makes us. Provided, we accept the now-made-famous Genesis 50/20 Principle of Joseph’s down-the-well moment: God allows the evil intended by man for a good end-purpose. Here’s another beneficial takeaway: For the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person's life at a given moment. ~ Viktor E. Frankl

Learning how to stay an otherwise fleeting moment is worth its while. Imagine the cumulative effect of these God-conscious moments, of being with Jesus Anytime Everywhere (JAE)! Let’s do our best in all circumstances since our best changes from moment to moment and also because:

Today is for the living
Tomorrow still lies in waiting
Give Today your very best
Then even if tomorrow you are called to rest
You could leave without much regret.

Lucille Dass, a retired but ‘rewired’ lecturer, styles herself as passionate. Her signature quote is: ‘The power of ability is the passion to make things happen’. She enjoys word-work with coffee for company – a happy combination that has helped yield some publications … scholastic and poetic.

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