Rejoicing in the present moment
Philip Young reminds us to enjoy the present moment, and not worry about the future or dwell on the past.
The older I become the more I realise the importance of the present moment. If you are always thinking about past mistakes or are anxious about what is going to happen in the future, then you may well miss the beauty of what is before your very eyes or the loveliness of those fellow human beings that journey with you for this particular day.
The mind often leads us away from the enjoyment of the present moment. This tendency to live in the past or the future and to ignore the present moment has sometimes been called ‘Stinking Thinking’ (e.g by Richard Rohr). The mind is always on the wander and has great difficulty settling on the present moment and enjoying fully what is present now at any particular moment.
The practice of contemplation can help us focus on the present moment and is a very useful method of helping us to be present. A time of quiet and mindfulness for even twenty minutes a day or preferably for twenty minutes twice a day can help transform your life by bringing you into the present.
We tend to blame ourselves for the past and run events over in our minds again and again, reliving what we said and how we might have reacted differently in any given situation. One thing about the past is that you cannot change it and we spend far too long wishing that we had acted in a different way. But think about it. However hard you try there is nothing you can do to alter the past and therefore it is better to accept what has happened rather than constantly re-running it.
We also can spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about the future. Jesus recommends that we do not do this- Luke 12: 22-34. The worries of the day are sufficient for the day and we should not spend huge amounts of time worrying about how we are to be fed or clothed. This wisdom teaching of Jesus is often ignored and we would do well to take it more into our hearts.
To be present to the moment is a wonderful gift and one to be treasured. When we worship God we should not want to rush to be somewhere else. To be present to the Presence is what we should aim for in our worship. So often we look for God to be doing something in the future and then we can miss what he wants to give to us in the present moment.
The sacrament of the present moment can often be experienced in the natural world. The other day I was in the Bluebell woods at Blickling Hall on a beautiful day and I could feel the presence of Beauty restoring my soul. Those are moments to be celebrated and appreciated.
Have you ever been with people and wanted to rush away and be somewhere else or be doing something different? Or has someone been talking to you and you know their full attention is not with you, but focused on the next person they want to talk to over the other side of the room? It is a real gift if you can be with and appreciate the people that you are with in the present moment and give them your full attention.
The ideal is to treat each person as sacred and in the same way as you would treat Jesus if he were standing before you. Then you will find the treasure buried in each human being and they will see the treasure of caring and love that is in your own heart.
Can I recommend you find a way to slow down and contemplate every day? Sit still, make yourself comfortable and focus on your breathing. Just enjoy the sensation of stillness and quiet and open yourself up to the presence of a deeper Presence with you.
Can I further recommend that you go on a Quiet Day and get some help with the art of contemplation? I am running a Quiet day at Otley Hall in Suffolk on 4th August 2016 entitled, ‘Enjoying the fullness of the present moment, how to make the most of every day’. Unfortunately it is already fully booked, but let them know if you are interested as future days can be planned. Have a look at their program and see what else may help you to fully appreciate the beauty of the present moment. www.otleyhall.co.uk And of course there is plenty of other help you can find if you wish to learn the wonderful art of contemplation.
The bluebell image above is courtesy of https://pixabay.com
Philip is an Anglican, Quaker, and a member of the Third Order of Franciscans. He moved to Felixstowe last year. Until July 2014 he was the Diocesan Environmental Officer for the Norwich Diocese. He is now a freelance writer on spiritual and political matters. He is available to run Quiet Days, give talks, presentations or to preach and can be contacted at email@example.com
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