We’re an aspirational kind of people.
From random job interview questions about “where we imagine ourselves in 5 years” to the ever-present “What are you going to do today?” We’re always headed, going, growing…becoming, even.
The beauty of the human is that these things are all possible, and they are all potentially positive. You could become a better father, go to Paris (though its rainy, this time of year is lovely), and accomplish your five year goals while barely breaking a sweat.
When it comes to our journey with Jesus, the future could most definitely look different. The way we dip into a darker story when we are pressed and stressed could soften and fade to the background. Our thoughts and words could line up so that love is infused into the simplest of conversations with baristas, bankers, and babies alike.
We, however, were not meant to live by aspiration alone. As a matter of fact, aspiration was meant to engage and submit to another state of thinking and existing:
Possibly the hardest thing to do as an aspiration-seeking being is to live in the actual - the moment that is.
In fact, the thing that makes the present simultaneously beautiful and easy to jettison is that it "is." The future “will be” and is filled with potential, possibility, and mystery. The present is staring us in the face.
The bills stacking up in our inbox or on our table…
The fight with our child happening as we stand in the middle of it…
The crisis of faith, wondering where we go when the “lights go out,” making its evening appearance…
The present is frightening because it is overflows with reality. It is the potential that has come to be, that is, and that will not relent.
I believe that the deepest move we can take as followers of Jesus is to embrace the present. To know it at the core, to love it despite its hideous knotted surface, and to live in it with the chosen joy that the prophets, the kings, Jesus and Paul all bore witness to when their present became too disfigured to stare in the face.
When we love where we are, with all of its darkness, we show ourselves to be soundings of eternity. Eternity, that thing that is always here and always coming because it never stops coming, deluges the cells and tissues - the very essence - of our souls.
To embrace the pain that is.
To embrace the tension that is.
To embrace the good-enough that is.
To embrace what cannot not be because it is, it is here, it is…
To do these things is to find the presence of God in all things. Not that He ordained them, designed them, or even loves the situations we call crisis, but that He sets a table in the midst of it (Psalm 23) and like most tables, they are at their most glorious only when we sit a while. Right now.
We sit in the valley.
We sit in what is.
Right dead in front of our enemy.
Then we’re ready for what comes next. The future, the aspirations, the fears and anxieties.
The next politician unhinged, tearing worlds apart.
The next moment where we choose simplicity instead of complexity.
The next moment we put our sweat energy into making something beautiful.
When else do we dream of beauty other than the waking moment we stand in right now?
Today, what do you need in order to love where you are? To truly wrap your arms around it, saying both “You have to go” and “You are what you are” and finding God in the middle?
Perhaps this blessing from poet and writer John O’Donahue will help you with the “is” that is. Blessings.
On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.
And when your eyes
the gray window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colors,
indigo, red, green
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays
in the curach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.