Monday, February 27, 2012

On Being Present

I haven’t written these past weeks, but I’ve been thinking – thinking lots on knitting and being present and not missing a stitch here in this life of mine. I hadn’t picked a word for 2012 yet, as I have in some years, and yet this thing about being present keeps popping up in devotionals and readings, and in the faces of young ones so full of stories to tell and games to play and wanting a story and just one more tuck for the night.
I’ve been pondering as I read The Rule of Benedict for Beginners, which talks extensively of listening, paying attention, responding, and sticking with it – remaining committed to a course of action.
          “The important thing is to bloom where you are planted, in your situation, in your family, in your organization, where you have given your ‘yes’ and not somewhere else.
How much escapist daydreaming we spend on thoughts such as: if only it were next week, I wish that this thing was ready, I wish I worked someplace else, if only the children had left, if only I had another partner, if only I could start all over…not only are such daydreams unrealistic (since they conflict with the situation here and now) but they draw away attention and energy, so that what the present situation demands of us receives insufficient response. Literally, that makes us irresponsibly busy.”

It is surprisingly hard work sometimes, this effort to avoid escapist daydreams and dawdlings and engage in the business of life around me. There is a neediness in so many voices wanting to be heard, narrations to be attended to, bellies to be fed, disagreements to mediate with patience and prayer rather than the snappish reply that comes naturally. I remember how a mother duck pulls feathers from her own breast to prepare a nest for her littles, and I am working to pluck with grace; will I perhaps get it someday?

In the meantime, as I pull myself away from escape and missed stitches, I often feel I’m reawakening to a beautiful dream. There is neediness, yes, in the voices constantly calling out, but how incredible a gift that I am the one they seek to hear their stories and share their joys! There is constancy in the requests and it is good to take time to recharge privately, but how great a privilege to be sought out to play a game, to share a snack, to look at a drawing just made.

Today we started the morning with Scrambled States of America, me present though not fully caffeinated; we gathered together to learn about Mozart, and during the sunny afternoon, enjoyed an hours-long walk through a nature preserve with friends. Boys scattered along the stream and examined the crazy ice formations left by a wind storm, and called out excitedly so that I wouldn’t miss a thing. See the ice that looks like small shaved sheets? Feel it, here! Come see this ice unicorn, you have to see it!

These days are short; I know this. I want to sear these memories into my heart – the boy streamside singing to himself, calling out, “To Narnia,” as he tosses ice into the water; a boy steadying his younger brother as he labors down a narrow path; daredevils who proudly scale a steep, muddy hill; a little one who catches my hand on the walk back, holding tight. This day – this one day – I think I paid attention.
“Because your loving-kindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise you.
Thus I will bless you while I live;
I will lift up my hands in your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
and my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips.”
Psalm 63:3-5

Giving thanks tonight for:
-         Sunday dinner with big kids and their friends
-         Games with boys
-         Friends who encourage on this walk of faith and family
-         Muddy nature walk (in February!) and the good friends who always get us out of doors
-         Joyful dog and the kids who gave her a bath
-         More good food than we can possibly eat, even with food restrictions
-         Books, books and more books
-         The library (books!)
-         God’s word that never fails
-         Our God who never, ever gives up on us and meets us where we are, again and again. 

Trusting in Him,


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