As we prepare for the season of Advent, we’ll hear the word Emmanuel quite often. God with us. So I thought it might be good to look together at the formidable work of presence.
Presence isn’t simply for our own sake. It’s not merely for a sense of stillness or inner peace. We become present because that’s where all the good stuff is…where all the real stuff is. And by real stuff I mean our connection to God, ourselves and others--all the key players in the Great Commandment.
By becoming present I remember what already is. God is here. God is with me. I am with God. I am in God. God is in me. (John 17:22-23).
When you pause for even a moment, you can remember what is. Right now, where you sit, close your eyes and take a really deep breath. Then slowly exhale and relax your shoulders as you breathe out.
Now, take this in: We live in a kingdom reality with a loving God who is always toward us. You are always safe in God’s presence. Yes, exactly as you are now, without any changes, you are safe and welcome in God’s presence. That’s love. That’s unconditional welcome.
The reason we learn to become present is so we can be aware of what is happening in our life of transformation. By becoming present we can begin to notice and acknowledge what is going on inside us. We are being invited, guided, nurtured, and transformed. How will you know what your next invitation is unless you have trained yourself to listen? Listening takes time…and it takes presence.
This is why I believe presence is a formidable word. Presence is not sitting around in perfect peace at all times doing half as much as we normally would with no cares in the world. That is not an unhurried life.
An unhurried life is present, awake, aware, and patiently ready. An unhurried life is responsive, prepared, and on the path of healing. An unhurried life actually takes courage because you are saying that you want the deep dive. You are willing to be changed from the inside out. You are willing to engage your relationships and work from a place of whole love and lived grace.
Our lives have many ups and downs, emotions and struggles. Development can be uncomfortable. However, we can learn to take it all in stride. Over time our fears can decrease and our stamina can increase. Our anxieties can reduce and our wisdom can grow.
We are not doing this for our own enjoyment or benefit, although growth like this is wonderful. It is “for the sake of others.” Love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus came to inhabit a human body, to share in our sufferings, and to show us what true love really is.
And, following the model of Jesus, an unhurried life is a rich and full life of heartfelt engagement. Both in rest and in work. God with us at all times and in all places.
So remember, you aren’t becoming present just for a sense of inner peace. You are becoming present because it is one of the first steps toward lived hope, peace, joy and love.
Let every heart prepare him room!
- What is one next, simple thing you can do today to become more present?
- As you become a little more present, what invitation arises out of that moment?
- When will you respond?