One week ago, last Tuesday, May 3, our Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux hosted almost 200 people who want to be of a solution. We hosted four different strategic planning meetings on two different sites. It was our first night of rolling up our sleeves and beginning to do the real work of planning for our future. For me personally it was a great night: a night filled with hope … a night filled with energy … and a night with a lot of people! Throughout the night I felt an inner debate between dozens of administrative details tugging versus the beautiful people that were right in front of me. With so much going on inside of me and outside of me it wasn’t always easy being present to the person right in front of me.
There was a struggle to be present to the present moment.
Luckily, not every day of my life is as busy. However, I must admit that almost every day I struggle with being present to the present moment. My calendar whispers to me, reminding me of things I have to do. My iPhone is forever on my person, a mere grasp away from pulling me into distraction. There are worries; there are desires; there are the practicals of life; and, each of them vies for my attention. With that, I find that it is easy for me to struggle with being present to the present moment.
Life can be right in front of me; however, am I present to the present moment? People can be right in front of me; however, am I present to them? Am I really listening? Furthermore, God can be right in front of me, forever knocking on my heart; however, am I present to Him?
What about you? Know what I’m talking about? Know what it’s like to struggle with being present to the present moment? A lot of us struggle with the pace of life … or with the natural distractions of life … or with the list of things to do. It’s easy to struggle in being present to the present moment. When we do, when we don’t live present, life passes us by. Life feels fast. We turn around we’re already 50 … or the kids have already graduated … or relationships or beyond us because our attention was never there. Then one day, in a moment of clarity, in a moment where our desire overcomes our distraction, we come face to face with our desire for more in life.
Today is the first of a series of reflections aimed at helping you grow into your identity as a disciple of Jesus Christ. To be a disciple we have to live as a disciple. To live as a disciple, to have a way of life structured as such that I live with Jesus and not merely for Jesus, that is what it means to be a missionary disciple. The “missionary” part of being a missionary disciple describes how I live. If we are going to live as disciples the first part is being present to the present moment. After all, if in the present moment I’m not present to people it sure makes sense that I would struggle to be present to God.
Today, I encourage you to pay attention to your attention. Are you present to the present moment? When you “here” are you thinking about being “there”? When you’re with someone are you really with them, or is your attention elsewhere? Pay attention today. How often do you grasp for your phone, not because the phone is ringing, but more out of habit and compulsion? How often do we exit silence and seek the radio or the television or the iPad or laptop?
Pay attention. God is present to you. The question is: are you present to Him? Are you present to the present moment?