Present & Presence
By Elaine Saville
As I see the wide leaves of our giant iris emerging, and the first tiny purple
clusters of flowers on our wisteria peeping out, I feel delight rising in my heart. I
greet the first signs of this new season with anticipation. At the same time, it causes
me to reflect on how quickly seasons change, and how swiftly time evaporates. As a
result, now more than ever, I am learning about enjoying each day fully.
I am becoming more aware that at times, although my body has been in the "here
and now," my heart has been somewhere locked in the future, or at times, the past. I
tend to be more of a future-oriented person, setting goals, striving, declaring my
faith in a better tomorrow. But what about the present? I can make a strong
statement of faith by choosing to be present in the present. In other words, being
alive with the awareness that God is here, right now and focusing on that reality.
God wants us to experience the fullness of life, here and now.
Jesus said, "Don't worry." Worry usually involves fear about the future. My mom
is known for having many sayings, magnets and pictures on her refrigerator. One is
an old French Proverb:
“Some of your griefs you have cured;
The worst you still have survived.
But what torment of pain you have endured,
From evils that never arrived.”
When I start “future tripping,” I stop and shift my awareness to the present. What
is God saying to me this day? He will take care of my tomorrows. How is He speaking to me? Many times it is through other people, His Word, and sometimes through nature.
If my mind is in the future, I can't really hear what He is saying now.
Sometimes we are so broken from the pain and shame of the past, that painful
memories replay over and over, with the futility of a hamster running on its wheel.
It robs us of our precious "now" experiences. One simple tool used for trauma healing
is to bring one’s awareness out of the past and into the here and now. This involves
bringing thoughts into the present by engaging our senses to experience the current
environment, while choosing to focus on God’s peace and love.
Sometimes the present seems pretty difficult to maneuver. This is a time when it
is especially important to find God present is the middle of current circumstances. In
Spiritual Direction, I often encourage the “directee” to look for the "gift" in the
difficult situation. Graham Cook has a saying that in every circumstance God has
already provided a promise and a provision. By turning our attention to God in the
present moment, we can find God’s promise and provision. Of course, there are
many gifts the Lord offers as we navigate a troublesome situation with Him. One
Divine gift He might reveal is the conforming of ourselves into His image. Another is
intimacy with Him.
I find that if I begin my morning by acknowledging God with thanksgiving and
worship, it helps me to stay “centered” throughout the day. I can also ask the Holy
Spirit to help me keep my thoughts and emotions in the present moment and to be
aware of His presence throughout the day. When I am in communion with Him, I am
much less apt to worry.
This day I am choosing to give my concerns of the present, goals for the future,
and the pains of the past, to God. Just for this day I am going to focus on being
present to His presence, receiving the abundant life He has for me. I will "stop and
smell the roses" (or wisteria 😊) and I will choose to enjoy my life as it is today. I will
be present to His presence, trust Him, and choose to receive the gifts He has for me