She is 87, in a nursing home, and is full of energy and life. Now I know most of us probably don’t think of energy and life being in a nursing home. But I promise–Vera is just that. Very lively. She reads, thinks, and watches television. And–she laughs, a lot! She smiles when I drop by and wants to know how my family is doing. "Well how are the girls?" she usually asks first. "That little one is in college? My my. Well I know you are proud of them." And the conversation goes on and on.
The other day she told me that one of the greatest blessings the Lord gave us was the inability to know what was coming next. Now I had to think about that one for a minute. She then explained, "If you knew what was going to happen in five minutes or the next hour or next day, you would miss the present." Wow. She is exactly right.
Jesus had a way of being present–really present with whoever he was with. In fact, when I read the stories of his encounters with people, I get the impression that he was never preoccupied with the future or bemoaned the past.
What if you knew the future? What if you knew that in five minutes you would get bit by a mosquito or stung by a bee? What if you knew how and when everyone in your family will die? What if you knew who will be divorced next year or in five years? What about your own life–and death? What if you knew exactly how and when you will die?
I think Vera is right. I don’t need to know all of that. I don’t think I could handle knowing all of these future details. No–God in his wisdom knows I have enough of a challenge just living in the moment. What I need to focus on is living in the moment.
- Really listening to a child speaking to me.
- Enjoying the moment of a sunrise. Really paying attention to its beauty.
- Laughing without reservation at something funny. Something that happened at one moment in time.
- Being with–really being present with a friend who is deeply grieving. I think of our friend who buried her husband a few years ago and who buried her only son yesterday. All before age 60.
- Paying attention to an older woman in a nursing home who shared a bit of wisdom with me one moment on an ordinary day.
Can you think of moments that you missed? Moments where you were brooding over the past? Moments where you were worrying about the future? Maybe I need to pay attention to what is happening now.
The most important thing about living in the moment is paying attention.