“Today while the blossoms still cling to the vine,
I’ll taste your strawberries I’ll drink your sweet wine.
A million tomorrows shall all pass away,
Ere I forget all the joys that are mine today."
If you'd like to hear a beautiful version of this song, click here
I have a confession to make: living in the present is very hard for me. Always has been.
I’m not proud of this.
If I’m being honest, I’m more of a planner and a “stew”er. I am great at planning events and organizing folks. I am also great at worrying about the future with my favorite game of “play-out-the-worst-case-scenarios-so-I-will-somehow-be-prepared-no-matter-what.” The sad illusion is that I’m in control! This practice does nothing but rob me of the joy of this present moment.
And that’s just on the front end of things. On the back end, I spend precious time and energy “stewing” over things that have happened, playing them over in my mind and thinking, “I should have..I wish I had..” – more fruitless behavior that robs me of joy.
Simple calculations show me that if I use half of my energy planning for the future and the other half stewing about the past, that leaves exactly NO TIME to actually live life in this glorious present.
A well known religious leader said, “Be where you are. Otherwise you will miss your life.”
I do not want to miss my life.
As a reminder, I have this framed picture on my desk at work:
“The world is full of people
Who will go their whole lives
And not actually live one day.
She did not intend on being one of them.”
While some people I know just naturally and easily live in the present moment, I have to work at it. This is my journey. So what things can I do to help me stay in the present moment?
- I can take time to be still and feel God’s presence.
- I can take a walk in nature, which connects me to the creative energy of God.
- I enjoy a weekly Bible study with women of all ages. As we share our experiences, my sisters remind me that someday I’m going to miss this hectic time of life with young kids running me ragged. Sometime in the sooner-than-I-can-even-believe future, my house will be all too quiet. If I’m not careful, my to-do list can take priority over bike rides, folding laundry can win out over a game of Chutes and Ladders, and cleaning up the kitchen can trump a quick game of bowling on the Wii. Time moves along all too quickly and the kids are growing up so fast. O Lord, let me take advantage of every opportunity to be present and laugh and play and tickle and listen AND LOVE.
- Finally, I practice the daily disciple of gratitude. Ann Voskamp’s lovely book One Thousand Gifts changed my life by reminding me that grace and joy can be ours if we only give thanks. Stopping to thank God for the blessings in my life helps keep me focused on this moment. In fact, this was her offering last weekend on her blog www.aholyexperience.com:
to go stand out in some field
to startle at the momentousness
of sky and grass and breath in your lung
What practices help you experience your life fully in the present?
While God’s love is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow,
I can only experience God’s love right now, today.