HEAVEN’S treasuries are wide-open. God is pouring tremendous graces upon whomever will ask for them in these days of change. Regarding His mercy, Jesus once lamented to St. Faustina,
The flames of mercy are burning Me — clamoring to be spent; I want to keep pouring them out upon souls; souls just don’t want to believe in My goodness. —Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary of St. Faustina, n. 177
The question then, is how to receive these graces? While God may pour them out in very miraculous or supernatural ways, such as in the Sacraments, I believe they are constantly available to us through the ordinary course of our daily lives. To be more precise, they are to be found in the present moment.
AN UNFORGETTABLE NEW YEAR’S EVE
I define the present moment as “the only point where reality exists.” I say this because too many of us spend most of our time living in the past, which no longer exists; or we live in the future, which hasn’t happened yet. We are living in realms that we have little to no control over. To live in the future or the past, is to live in an illusion, for none of us knows if we will even be alive tomorrow.
At a New Year’s Eve celebration, my wife and I were sitting at a table with friends, laughing and enjoying the celebrations, when suddenly a man across from me slumped off his chair onto the floor. Gone—just like that. Sixty minutes later, the man who attempted CPR on the deceased, was now lifting a child into the air to pop balloons hanging over the dance floor. The contrast—the frailty of life—was startling.
Any one of us could die in the next second. That’s why it is senseless to be anxious about anything.
Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your lifespan? (Luke 12:25)
Think of a merry-go-round, the kind you played on as a child. I recall getting that thing going so fast I could barely hang on. But I also remember that the closer I came to the middle of the merry-go-round, the easier it was to hold on. In fact, at the middle on the hub, you could just sit there—hands free—watching all the other kids, limbs flailing in the wind.
The present moment is like the center of the merry-go-round; it is the place of stillness where one can rest, even though life is raging all around. What do I mean by this, especially if in the present moment, I am suffering? Since the past is gone and the future has not happened, the only place where God is—where eternity intersects with time—is right now, in the present moment. And God is our refuge, our place of rest. If we let go of what we cannot change, if we abandon ourselves to the permissive will of God, then we become like a little child who can do nothing but sit on his papa’s knee. And Jesus said, “to such as these little ones does the Kingdom of Heaven belong.” The Kingdom is found only where it is: in the present moment.
…the kingdom of God is near (Matt 3:2)
The moment we begin to live in the past or the future, we leave the center and are pulled to the outside where suddenly great energy is demanded of us to “hang on,” so to speak. The more we move to the outside, the more anxious we become. The more we give ourselves over to imagination, living and grieving over the past, or worrying and sweating about the future, the more we are likely to be tossed off the merry-go-round of life. Nervous breakdowns, temper flare-ups, drugs, drinking bouts, indulging in sex, pornography, or food and so on… these become ways in which we try to cope with the nausea of worry consuming us.
And that’s over the big issues. But Jesus tells us,
Even the smallest things are beyond your control. (Luke 12:26)
We should worry then about nothing. Nothing. Because worry does nothing. We can do so by entering into the present moment and simply living in it, doing what the moment demands of us, and letting go of the rest. But we need to become aware of the present moment.
Let nothing trouble you. —St. Teresa of Avila
WAKING FROM WORRY
Simply stop whatever you’re doing and recognize you are helpless to alter the past or future—that the only thing in your dominion now is the present moment, that is, reality.
If your thoughts are noisy, then tell God about it. Say, “God, all I can think about is tomorrow, yesterday, this or that… I give to you my worry, because I can’t seem to stop.”
Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you. (1 Pet 5:7)
Sometimes you have to do that several times over the course of a single minute! But everytime you do, that is an act of faith, a small, tiny act of faith—the size of a mustard seed—that can begin to move mountains in the past and the future. Yes, faith in God’s mercy cleanses us of the past, and faith in God’s will can level mountains and raise the valleys of tomorrow.
But worry just kills time and fertilizes gray hair.
As soon as you start to worry about the beyond, bring yourself back into the present moment. This is where you are, now. This is where God is, now. If you are tempted to worry again, imagine that five seconds from now, you are going to slump over dead as a doorknob in your chair, and everything you are fretting about will vanish. (It was St. Thomas Moore who kept a skull on his desk to remind him of his mortality.)
As the Russian proverb goes,
If you do not die first, you will have time to do it. If you die before it is done, you don’t need to do it.
SHAFT OF ETERNITY: SACRAMENT OF THE MOMENT
The merry-go-round revolves around an axis mounted in the ground. This is the shaft of eternity which passes through the present moment, making it a “sacrament.” Because again, hidden within it is the Kingdom of God which Jesus commands us to seek first in our lives.
…do not worry anymore… Instead seek his kingdom and all your needs will be given you besides. Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:29, 31-32)
Where is the Kingdom that God wants to give us? Intersecting with the present moment, the “duty of the moment”, in which is expressed the will of God. If you are living somewhere else than where you are, how can you receive what God is giving? Jesus said that His food was to do the will of the Father. So then, for us, the present moment carries divine food for us, whether it is delightful or bitter, consolation or desolation. One can “rest” on the hub of the present moment, then, because it is God’s will for me now, even if involves suffering.
Each and every moment is pregnant with God, pregnant with the graces of the Kingdom. If you enter into and live by the sacrament of the present moment, you will discover a tremendous freedom, for,
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Cor 3:17)
You will begin to experience the Kingdom of God within and soon realize that the present moment is the only moment in which we really live.
You have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. Instead you should say, “If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that.” (James 4:14-15)
How do we deal with the “prophetic words” that speak of events which lie on the horizon? The answer is this: we cannot have the strength for tomorrow unless we walk in the present moment with God today. Besides, God’s time is not our time; God’s timing is not our timing. We need to be faithful with what He has given us today, this present moment, and live it to the full. If that means baking a cake, building a house, or producing an album, then that’s what we should do. Tomorrow has enough trouble of it’s own, Jesus said.
So whether you read words of encouragement or messages of warning here, their intended purpose is always to bring us back to the present moment, back to the center-hub where God is. There, we will find we no longer need to “hold on.”
For then, God will be holding us.
First published February 2nd, 2007
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