The Context of the Present Moment
Dear Kaleid Ladies,
Good morning! Blessings on your Wednesday!
Last week we asked, “What if we’ve been listening to our own stories and taking them out of context?” This question was in light of our faith-politics identity in America, but it’s a question that we can consider and apply in many ways during this season of tension and uncertainty.
Today we invite you to consider your story in light of the context of the present moment.
As human beings, we have the distinct mental capacity to collect memories from our yesterdays and hopes for our tomorrows and gather them into our todays. These collections are beautiful, resonant evidence of life’s bounty.
However, the flipside is that we also have the distinct mental capacity to collect pain from our yesterdays and fears for our tomorrows and gather them into our todays. This second capacity, an inversion of our beautiful gift, can lead us into dark places of anxiety, regret, hopelessness, and defensiveness. Into life’s scarce places.
Discovering how to be present in this moment, with awareness of Jesus, our surroundings, and our finitude, allows us to put our stories of sorrow or fear into the context of the ever-present love and life of God. We can release them more easily when we remember our context in the present.
First, Jesus. In John 15:4, Jesus says, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” This verse points us to what it means to be present with Jesus. Remaining is an active choosing-to-stay, not a passive lingering. Remaining is what we do when we could do other things, namely departing. Jesus desires that we stay put, in the present, inside of the awareness that we are in Him and that He is in us. This with-Jesus-ness is the present space into which we collect our past and our present, both their beauty and their pain.
Next, our surroundings. Current Christian teaching tends to privilege the inner life over the physical life, but Jesus taught and lived in a world of Judaism that saw the body and mind as integrated and mutually important. For Jesus and the forefathers and foremothers of our faith, the physical life was highly integrated with what we call the “spiritual” life. When we get lost in the stories of our yesterdays and our tomorrows, mentally, it is a spiritually grounding practice to become present physically to our surroundings. We can choose to pause, to notice the sights, smells, sounds, and textures of our current world and to allow our swirling mental and emotional “snowglobe” to subside and to take their proper place.
Finally, when we are present, we can recall the beautiful gift of our finitude. We are here, now. We live within the bounds of our particular, uniquely created humanity. Even God, as a human, lived within limits. Jesus had only a certain number of good friends, only a certain scope to his ministry, only a certain ability to keep going before he sought rest, and only a certain amount of time to image God to the world in human form. Practicing being present is a way to be content with what we have, trusting that the bounded form of our life is not the enemy but rather the shape of the container that God has chosen to give to us, and it is enough.
So, today, when the stories in your head and heart feel big or bad, remember the present. Remain in Jesus. Attend to the world around you. And offer gratitude for your limits.
Peace to you today,
The Kaleid Team
P.S. - We liked this prayer for our president and our president-elect from David French, “May God bless him and grant him the wisdom to know what’s just, the courage to do what’s just, and the stamina to withstand the rigors of the most difficult job in the world. May his virtuous plans prevail and may his unrighteous efforts fail. And may God protect him from all harm.”