Walking our Faith: Expanding our present with presence
Walking our Faith
I’ve been looking forward to Sept. 1 since the middle of July, which might be part of my problem. Since the middle of August, I’ve been searching the ground cover for the first signs of changes in the color.
And sure enough, hidden amongst the bright green, I saw the deepest red leaves last Saturday. I took a picture, and I knew that soon I would see the first golden leaves in an Aspen tree.
I am always looking forward to something. Whether it’s a change of season or the next thing on my to-do list, I am somebody who tries every new planner that comes to market in an attempt to keep track of where I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to be doing at any given moment.
The problem, I realized as I enjoyed the ruby red leaves, is too much anticipation distracts me from paying attention to the present moment. I’d spent the last glorious weeks of summer looking for signs of autumn.
How often do I find myself in a telephone conversation with Mom and she will ask, “What are you doing right now, Suzanne?” I’ll answer, “I’m listening to you.” And Mom will reply, “I can tell you’re distracted. Your mind’s a million miles away.” And of course, she’s right. And that’s a shame because Mom is 92 and our phone calls are precious, and she deserves my attention and respect.
Why is it so difficult to pay attention? Yet even as I pray, my mind wanders. Even as I practice living fully in the moment, my mind wanders to what I have to do next. And it occurs to me that time is flowing by whether I am paying attention to my life or not.
Just two months ago, we had our last big snowfall of the season. And in those two months, we’ve managed to squeeze in spring and summer. And two month from now, I’ll look up and see snow-covered mountains and be preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yet it feels like just yesterday I was writing about what I’ve given up for Lent.
The Bible says, “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall.” And I am reminded that the days of my life flow by whether I use them wisely or not. And that is exactly the glorious choice I face each day. I don’t have to wait until New Year’s to begin again. When I open my eyes each morning, my life begins again.
I want to pay attention and be fully present when I am with people I love, to experience my time with them. I want to pay attention when I am walking with my dogs and notice my surroundings. I never want to take for granted this beautiful mountain setting.
And when I am sitting and speaking to God, I want to give him my full attention. To experience the awe of sitting in God‘s presence, I want to learn to be a better listener when God is speaking because God is always speaking to each of us, but we are often so distracted we can’t hear what our hearts are aching to hear.
I believe there is so much more to be experienced in our relationship with God if we will pause long enough to say, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” And to have the patience to wait and listen and pay attention to hear God’s response.
I don’t know if practicing presence expands the time we have here on Earth. But I believe it enriches it by allowing us to discover the precious gift of each moment. I’ve found that my ability to experience presence has grown as I’ve participated in weekly centering prayer and adoration/silent prayer practices around Summit County. Here are the ones I know about. If you have others, please email me so that I can share them.
- Mondays: adoration of the blessed sacrament/silent prayer from 6-8 p.m. Our Lady of Peace in Silverthorne
- Tuesdays: centering prayer at 12:15 p.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Breckenridge
- Wednesdays: centering prayer from 9:45-10:15 a.m. at Lord of the Mountains in Dillon
- Thursdays: centering prayer followed by video and discussion from 5-6:30 p.m. at Breckenridge Christian Ministry
- Thursdays: adoration of the blessed sacrament/silent prayer from 5-6 p.m. at St. Mary’s in Breckenridge
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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