The expression, “being present” for me evokes a picture of walking in a silent wood taking in God’s creation. I feel at peace with it all. A soft, meditative glow shines through the trees. Perhaps a bird song echoes as I think deep thoughts and in prayer I am connected with God. Magical, idyllic, perfect like in a movie or a painting.
Quiet, peaceful, filled with God’s creation. At peace. Ahhhhh.
The feeling of the rough bark of a tree, the refreshing wetness of a spring rain, the sound of the panting dog at my side, the taste of fruit as I sit and rest, the smell of the spring flowers as they bloom. So many things to encounter over and over. Being present engages your senses more than you might normally. It allows you to take notice and then to adjust your life. You might just notice it and forget but the potential is to truly affect your life. To see, hear, taste, feel and smell. Being aware. We miss so much that noticing a moment or an event is powerful. We are so often distracted and harried by life.
Yes, that’s it. Getting away from the pressures of work, from the needs or the day or the noise and distractions that demand my attention. But it’s not always in communing with nature. That’s probably a favourite “being present” for me (and for lots of people) but there’s more. As I think this month about being present I realize that it happens in many contexts and there is a lot of value, awareness, wonder in it all. Whether a peaceful nature setting or not.
Taking time. Escaping.
But it definitely involves getting separate from distractions and hurry. Taking time. Escaping. And there is a lot to escape some days!
Oh, I think our technological distractions play a part — cell phones, laptops, tablets, and smart watches grab our attention as they vibrate, ping, chime or play favourite tunes to herald the next interruption. But we have been a distracted lot long before we carried super computers in our pockets and on our wrists. We’d get tied up in knots about work or school or relationships and miss the world that shone around us. (like we still do)
For that reason I think that it is a gift from God to be present in whatever place you find yourself. It can lift you from the daily struggle into a place of appreciation, of seeing God and being impacted. Again, it’s not always in nature. It can be appreciation of the life stirring around you in the city. People walking, laughing, working or travelling.
be present in whatever place you find yourself
One of the times when I’ve been present in the past is sitting in my car in a parking lot at a highway rest stop. Just watching people as they travel. They are driving for work or moving their household, taking a vacation or to going to visit someone. Without knowing them I can see them in transit and pray for them and appreciate the movement of life around me.
Take a few minutes and think about a time you were really present. Where were you and what did you see, feel, smell, taste or hear? What still stands out in the memory?
And what impacted you at the time or even now makes you think and possibly adjust your life?
Or take some time and do it now. Give yourself permission to rest, to notice, to appreciate what is happening around you. Whatever your context, we have moments that can be discovered if we’ll choose to do so.