One evening this last week I was listening to the radio on my way home. I caught the last few minutes of an interview. I don’t remember the program or the person being interviewed, but I remember what she said.
She was talking about an exercise in simplicity with the purpose of becoming more present to the situation at hand. The exercise was to take a measure of rice or sesame seeds, let’s say one cup, and count the grains. After a few minutes, most people will become completely overwhelmed with the task because of our inability to focus on one thing at a time.
Her contention is that technology is outpacing our brains’ ability to cope with its advancement. If we allow, we can be inundated with stimuli in the form of information, media, and competing goals and expectations. She was giving an exhortation toward presence, which is staying attentive to the person or task before us.
This has many implications, but the three that immediately came to my mind were family, community, and church. All three require us to be simply present. Presence, especially in the family and church, is expansive. It can be said that it is the presence of God being collectively expressed in the present. This is the basis of Jesus’ prayer in John 17:20-23.
I’m not praying only for them but also for those who believe in me because of their word. I pray they will be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. I pray that they also will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. I’ve given them the glory that you gave me so that they can be one just as we are one. I’m in them and you are in me so that they will be made perfectly one. Then the world will know that you sent me and that you have loved them just as you loved me.
May the grace of Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit empower us to become present to those who are near and dear to us.
Grace and peace,