Live in the Moment

Live in this moment… now…

My dad used to say, “You can’t get it any faster than one day at a time…”. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is not here yet and we can’t make it get here faster by anything we do. I remember a sermon once when the priest said we can spend a lot of time planning, setting dates in our calendars and scheduling our lives with some rigidity, but we can’t guarantee tomorrow will come for us. We must live in this moment, for it is all we have… the now. If we live too much in our past, we might beat ourselves up for the things that didn’t go right. While the past is good to reflect on, we can’t dwell there so much as to grieve over what we cannot change.

Consider this analogy: there is a hiker, backpacking on a mountain trail. If we live in the past, we will spend too much time looking backwards at the trail behind us and may trip, as in tripping our way into the future (and perhaps over the edge of the trail). In April 2006, I went on such a backpacking trip with some friends, spending four days backpacking in the Grand Canyon. We spent many months planning our trip. After so much build up and excitement, we finally reached the morning that we would start backpacking down the trail for the first day of 6.8 miles - and nearly 5,000 feet down into the canyon. While we spent much effort planning this trip, that was all behind us as we started down the trail and on our great adventure! While my focus was ever looking down at the trail and at my footing, so as to not take a misstep which may have resulted in a fatal fall over the edge of the trail, I had to stop every once in a while and take in the view. Any attempt at describing the view would automatically be an understatement. It was breathtaking and I will never forget it. I was living in the moment, and it was so much better than stressing about the past or the future.

If we always try to live in our future, and adapt the “if only” syndrome, we will miss so much of the "now". Sitting at the dinner table with your children or grandchildren, thinking, “if only I could get out to the reclining chair and turn on the game” means we miss out on the conversations that might shed light on our family and the rich gifts we have in them. I can remember when our children were young, in the days before DVRs (we only had a VHS tape which was not the easiest thing to set for repetitive recording) I would be getting them in bed with bedtime books/stories, prayers and songs… all the while glancing at my watch, anticipating the start of Star Trek, The Next Generation at 9:00 PM. I have to admit, by anticipating that show starting, I was sometimes hurried to get the routine complete, to get to the living room to watch the show. I probably missed many treasured moments with my children had I just slowed down and drank deeply of the moment without the stress of “getting done with this task to move on to the next one”. It makes me sad… I have found, though, that I can enjoy those moments again with our grandchildren and tend to slow down more and drink deeply of those moments. I think that is fairly common for grandparents, to slow down and enjoy those moments we might have missed with our children. Grandchildren are such a blessing in that way and many others.

You may have also heard the saying, “Life here on earth is short when compared to eternity.” I think we should realize that the specific timing of things on earth, in the grand scheme of things, is insignificant. That doesn’t mean we shouldn't try to accomplish something. God knew us before we were born and he has a plan for us. We may not have a clue what that plan is, but that doesn’t mean we should just sit back, turn on one of the many mind-numbing devices that we have to entertain us and do nothing! Quite the contrary, we should work every day on becoming fully alive in Christ. What’s that you say? Wait a minute… that sounds like a fairly tough assignment. Remember what I started with: one day at a time. That’s how we have to work on becoming fully alive in Christ.

Let’s start with five minutes for prayer in the morning, then five more at lunch and again five more at bedtime. This means we will give 15 minutes to the One who made us… just over one percent of our day. While that is not that much, it may seem hard to focus for those five minute periods. Practice, practice and practice more until it becomes so easy, it flies by and you are seeing the five minutes stretch to 15 minutes, three times a day.

Am I there yet? Not even close… I am a Work In Progress (W.I.P.) and will be until the day I die. Don’t let the sound of the enormity of this assignment stop you from starting… again and again and again… five minutes at a time, one day at a time. Live in the moment… now...

Dennis Sullivan