A childhood preacher, and later a ministry friend of mine, Terry Rush frequently said, “Don’t you just love right now?” He would sometimes add, “Little thought is given to the fantastic wow of now.” Yep, you read that right. He said, “The wow of now.” I love the guy, but when I was younger this drove me crazy. There were days when I wanted to say audibly in church, “No, I don’t Terry.” Now, I think he was onto something.
In our Thursday Rector’s Reading Group we always began with good news and bad news. It was a time where we went around the table and every person would share some good news or some bad news. Then we would pray and start reading and discussing. I only knew Deacon Doyal Davis after his stroke. He was wheelchair bound and dependent on help. He had a lot to complain about, but he never did (of course it would have been perfectly fine if he did). He always shared good news or just said, “pass,” with a wave of his hand.
One day Doyal said something that stuck with me. When we came to him in the circle he said, “A robin made a nest just outside my back door. Everyday I get to sit and watch her with her babies.” Then he paused, and tears began to form in his eyes. Finally, he said with great emotion, “It’s so beautiful.” The group was stunned silent for a moment.
In those few minutes Doyal, who had many legitimate reasons to complain, seemed to have found as much joy watching that Robin with her babies as I had ever found in any of the big moments of my life. He seemed at that moment to be completely present in his day. He was not looking to something better down the road to make him happy. He was not wishing his life away or ignoring his problems, but somehow it seemed Doyal was in a way, actually loving his right now.
Many great people of faith in my life including seminary professors, spiritual directors, priests and deacons, and the writings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, have taught me that if I want to find joy in my faith or life I am going to have to learn to live in the moment. I don't mean pie in the sky optimism, just learning to be present in each moment, the good and the bad ones. If we can do this maybe we will find God in food, friends, beautiful days, in all the simple beauty and goodness we find in life. Of course learning to do this takes practice and it certainly takes the Spirit.
This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday when we remember how God gave the Spirit to the people of God. Maybe now as summer arrives, as we come out of this time of pandemic, maybe now would be a good time to change our focus? Maybe now we can work on finding the joy and the gift of God in good simple things, in moments and people.
See you in church,
Fr. Tom +
“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” Romans 5