Present Moment, Perfect Moment

In his book Being Peace, and in his meditation instruction, Thich Nhat Hanh says,

“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”  

I don’t know if it’s true for all of you, but I suspect that a few of you out there share the tendency to worry, analyze and plan.  I have learned over the years that this can be a wonderful gift when it helps me anticipate the needs of others well and succeed in my professional and personal service.  On the other hand, when it causes me to make the bold and useless attempt to pre-grieve; inaccurately displace words, thoughts or feelings onto other people; or totally miss the good that is happening right now; it is more of a curse than a blessing.

I recently read (I wish I could remember where!!) a story about a man who learned through life’s early hardships to protect himself emotionally from being too happy, in an effort to prevent too much sadness in the future.  So when he eventually found the partner of his dreams, he did fall in love; but in anticipation of how much pain love could bring, tempered his expression of that love.  As it turned out, when she finally passed away his pain was extremely intense and overwhelming.  And, in addition, there was guilt and sadness that he had missed the counterpart times of great happiness, enjoyment, and closeness when he had the chance; all in an effort to protect himself from the pain he was feeling in her absence.  We absolutely cannot prevent ourselves from pain and suffering.  It is part of the mix.  It’s a human thing…

It is not helpful for us to try to skip over or fast-forward through feelings.  I have tried several times unsuccessfully!  😉   It is helpful to be deeply present exactly where we are, when and with whom living or dying is happening.  As that last anecdote reminds us, avoiding the fullness and vulnerability of closeness and joy certainly does not rescue us from hurting; it only robs us of the greatest gifts of life- the memories that float us through the rapids of challenges.  The only way to be sure that we are not missing anything- which ironically is the intended purpose of all the worrying, planning, and anticipating- is to be mindful and aware.

Be aware of your thoughts and feelings.  Breathe in and ask yourself and Spirit, “In this moment, what is mine to do?”  Sometimes (pay attention helpers and overachievers!) the answer is “nothing, it’s someone else’s business.”  Other times the answer might be, “Just be there.  There is nothing to say or do.  Just be there.”  It is in those moments that we are often faced with feelings of helplessness, loss of control, sadness, anxiety that we want to skip to the next experience.  We can do it with music, TV, electronic communications, but not face to face rawness!  Those raw moments when nothing else feels real and possible force us to surrender to the present, and in the Present is where God is!   That means- in the fullness of intimacy and ecstasy, as well as the dungeons and vacuums of despair- in the moment- God is there.

Sometimes God is there in the flesh- in us being there for each other; for ourselves even.  Being exactly where we are and feeling exactly what we are feeling grows the soul, and engenders compassion for other people when we notice them in places we remember.  We can more freely celebrate with them; and more genuinely support them through hardship, because we too have visited those places.  This kind of mindfulness and compassionate self-awareness increase our ability to discern and act with grace when it is necessary; and when to Be Still on Know God is there (Psalm 46:10).  Practice, practice, practice.  This breath.  Now this one. Now this one…

“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile.  Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”

― Thich Nhat HanhBeing Peace

6 thoughts on “Present Moment, Perfect Moment

  1. I love your work and so glad u r doing a blog. Pre-grieve, a term a had never heard before. As a couple without children, nieces, or nephews, I’m concerned about us as we age. I try not to let it bother me and live life in the moment, yet it is in the back of my mind. My motto for 2018 is “use me, Lord”. Amazing where this is taking me as I tried it in Dec. Happy New Year my beloved friend. It is amazing to watch u grow

    Sent from my iPhone Connie

    >

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    1. Thank you for your friendship and kind words! I love the phrase “use me”! It is both a sign of holy surrender and active choice to mindfully participate in the unfolding of a plan we cannot see. Great motto! I cannot know how, but my work has shown me that in the ways God has shown up for partners, when one is no longer physically present, God fills in those spaces differently. Different is certainly not always what we want. It is a wide open scary place, but it can also expand our hearts creating new pockets we never knew we wanted. I think the way you are always learning and doing new things together is an outstanding spiritual practice that each of you will be able to rely on in the future. God is a creative God, and you are a receptive child of God. Praying you both comfort and adventure! Love Gina

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  2. Dear Gina,

    This post expresses wisdom that often people don’t find until many years of life experience. You have described mindful living very beautifully.

    Thank you.

    Sr. Barbara Jean

    Like

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