Saturday, March 09, 2013

The Challenge Continues, Day 62: Numbers 36; Psalm 52; Luke 10

Living fully into the present...
One of the hardest skills to master in life is living fully into the present moment. Having body, thought, affection, attention and intention all in one place, at one time might seem natural. It is, however, quite difficult in practice. You can try it yourself. Be here. Now.

Don't think about the day ahead. Don't wonder what's for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Don't ponder what item you should take on next from your to-do list. Don't think about that meeting later today, or next week. Don't worry about money. Don't worry about your partner, your friends, your family. Don't rerun yesterday, or last week, or last month, or 1983. Don't be anywhere else other than here, now. Once you arrive here, then stay here. Be fully present. Make all that can be made from this moment, and then release it in order to embrace the next. Allow the summation of your experiences to inform the present, but don't attach to the past. Allow hope to exist, but don't project your expectations or anxieties into the future. Be here. Now.

In Luke, we see Jesus living out that practice. Each moment of the narrative provokes from him an incredible, powerful and in-the-moment response that makes the kingdom bloom into existence around us on a continual basis. Sometimes those moments are huge. He sends out those 70 to proclaim the Good News. They are to heal and to restore what is broken and lost to unity with God. They are to take virtually nothing bu themselves and the clothes on their backs. They are to go, be present and proclaim when the conditions are right, and to continue on when they are not. They are to carry no expectations into the encounters they will have, only the intention of connecting with people and sharing news of the Kingdom that is breaking in, here and now. They do just that, returning with great news of their journey. Even demons submitted to them.

Jesus celebrates that return, gives thanks to God and reminds them to be present, to be awake. They are to continue on this path, and take what they have learned as an invitation into their "now." Jesus also teaches on how the Law can be a blessing, and an impediment, to living the way of the kingdom in the present. A Pharisee tests Jesus with a legal question: Which commandment is greatest? The first: Love God with all you are, every fiber of your existence...and when you do that in the here and now, love your neighbor as yourself.

Two illustrations put flesh on those bones. One is the parable of the Good Samaritan. The other is Jesus' encounter with Martha and Mary at their home. Martha is caught up in the demands of getting on to the future, anxious to be away from the present moment's challenges. She is preparing a meal and worrying on how to get past the "now." Mary is at Jesus' feet. She is not stressing; and that distressed Martha out even more. Jesus' invitation to Martha? Look at your sister. Take a breath. Don't worry about the meal so much. Be here and now. If I could add dialogue to the narrative at this point, I would have Jesus adjure Martha to enjoy cooking, if that is her way, versus worrying about getting a meal on the table. Better yet, Jesus might get up and join her in that present moment in the kitchen.

If you are sitting, then sit. If you are eating, then eat. If you are cooking, then cook. If you are praying, then pray. If you are here and now, fully present to God and to your neighbor; then truly can God be any less than pleased? We have this moment. Now is the only thing we have with God and each other. Jesus calls us to be fully present, with all our being, in the now-and with that both the first, and the second, commandment are fulfilled.

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