think on, pray on, act on this
From the pen of
Archdeacon James Ridge
As I write this the rain is drumming on the conservatory roof above my head and it feels unseasonably cold for May. Whilst there have been some bright spots (and the rain is much needed for the garden) I find myself longing for long summer days to come combined with, hopefully, a lifting of the Covid restrictions, time for travel, meeting with friends and family and some relaxation.
It seems in many ways as if we’ve all been waiting since March last year, as if everything has been on hold until things return to “normal” – whatever that may be!
I’ve recently read a Vicar’s letter from a Parish magazine which exhorted us to be constantly looking forward rather than backwards. I agree that we should not spend all our time looking back and that there is nothing to be gained from becoming stuck in the past. But there’s a risk to all this looking forward and that is that we fail to take account of the moment in which we are currently living. We can be so focussed on what is ahead that we fail to take notice of the people and the situations which are around us now. It is the present moment which is God’s gift to us now – to be used and to be enjoyed and appreciated or to be wasted if we spend our time wishing for something else to come.
There is a school of thought in the Christian Church, begun by Jesuit Priest Jean-Pierre de Caussade in the mid-18th Century that speaks of “the Sacrament of the Present Moment”, suggesting that each moment is sacramental – filled with the presence and the power of God. God meets us here – we should not spend our time regretting what has passed, neither longing for nor fearing what is to come. What is past is gone while what is to come are in the hands of God alone, whereas what is now is given to us to use as we choose.
People speak a lot at the moment about “Mindfulness”, the practice of being aware of our surroundings and able to appreciate the beauty of the things around us, as if this was a new thing. But the Jesuits were doing it 300 years ago! We can choose to live each day as a gift from God (like any other sacrament), experiencing his grace through our five senses as we interact with the world he has made.
In Luke Chapter 12 Jesus tells the story of the rich man who stores up huge amounts of possessions for himself so that he can enjoy the years to come without having to do anything to provide for himself. That night God speaks to him: ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’
Jesus tells this as a cautionary tale, drawing our attention not so much to the man’s greed in piling up his possessions and not sharing them, but in his foolishness in wasting all the time he has preparing for a future time which, as it turns out, he will never live to see.
None of us knows what the future holds but we do know this, there is beauty to be found in the present moment if only we can take the time to look for it.
May you know God’s presence and his blessing with you in this moment,