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Being Present – St. Nick’s News Oct. 20, 2023

Full St. Nick’s News for October 20, 2023

Dear friends,

Don’t you just love it when you start a new book and you just cannot put it down? There is something so delightful about your imagination being captivated by a story or character. Recently I read (more like devoured) Kate Bowler’s book Everything Happens For A Reason: and Other Lies I’ve Loved. I could not put the book down. I felt like I was talking to a friend who had an incredible amount of wisdom to share and recognizes the urgency and need for speaking the truth.

The author has shared that this book is a love letter to her family. Others share that it feels like a love letter to life. It is a look at her journey with stage IV colon cancer and how she faces some hard truths and travels through this time with her family, friends, and doctors.

One of the beautiful gifts this book gave me was the reminder to be present. In her chapter about Ordinary Time (which is the time in the church season between Pentecost and Advent), she recalls a conversation with a friend. He encouraged her saying, “Don’t skip to the end.” As she reflects on this meaning Kate writes, “Plans are made. Plans come apart. New delights or tragedies pop up in their place…this life has been more painful than I could have imagined. More beautiful than I could have imagined. Right. That’s the secret- don’t skip to the end.”

I read that as an invitation to practice the stewardship of being in the present moment. It is so easy to think about the past or obsess about the future. It is so easy to worry about a final result and forget about the process and simply being present to each moment in every day. Oh to practice being in the moment – that is a beautiful spiritual discipline! I adore little children who notice the roly poly bugs and lady bugs when the rest of us have more important tasks to attend to. I love the friends who call each other or grab lunch and don’t worry about the time spent – every moment is a moment blissfully surrendered to love and care. I am filled with gratitude every time a church service or event ends and we don’t really want to leave – we just want to be present with one another so we keep talking and basking in the love and joy God has for us.

These are just little examples of ordinary time – ordinary moments where life is well lived. The moments where we experience God if we can be present and open our eyes. Here is a blessing from Kate Bowler on being present in the moment.

a blessing for the life you have

Blessed are you who
hold hope with an open hand.
You who try not to fix your gaze
on time’s far horizon or
get drunk on what might yet be.

And blessed are you who
avoid walking too far down memory
lane, getting stuck wondering if that
was as good as it gets,
if you’ve peaked,
or feeling resentful about all that
has disappointed before.

Blessed are you who know
that sometimes you need
to stay right here.
At least for a minute.

Blessed are you who look
wide-eyed, maybe timidly,
at the present moment,
gazing at those things that
are gently, actually within
the reach of your fingertips.

Blessed are you amid the
ordinary details that define
what life is for you, right now.
And as you see them,
greet them—each one—
as you smile and
call them by name.

Everyday joys. Small pleasures.
Birds chirping. Cat cuddles.
A cold glass of water.
A little child calling your name.
The breeze on your cheeks.
The ocean rhythm.
The perfect pillow.
The kindness of a friend.
Loves that are and were
and ever will be.

May they seem even lovelier,
even more delicious because
they become gifts offered anew.

May gratitude fill you,
reaching all of the spaces within
you that disappointment
left behind and fear has gripped.

May something rise in your heart
that feels like a strange
new kind of contentment.

Because this isn’t what
you had planned, but it
surprises you that even here
it can be good. Satisfying.
In a way that you know you
can come back to. A place that can
sustain you through
whatever may come.

Blessed are you,
finding that life is good
because it is enough.

God’s Peace, Love, and Blessings,