I think I must have been being too joyful over the weekend, because I lost a few days in there somewhere.
For today’s meditation I want to focus on the present, and not in the cheesy way that an email I received encouraged me to: they call today the present, because it’s a gift. Um, yeah. Pema Chodron writes: “One can appreciate and celebrate each moment—there’s nothing more sacred.There’s nothing more vast or absolute. In fact, there’s nothing more!” I spend too much time, in fact, most of my time, focusing on what comes before each moment and on what comes after each moment. I don’t regularly savor each moment as it happens. Too frequently, I waste the moment by thinking about what I could have changed about the past or about how that present moment will impact my future. In general, I don’t just stop and think about how truly beautiful, or how truly sacred, each moment can be or is. I find myself trapped in the past, looking toward the future, and forgetting about the present, the right now, the “moment” of which “there’s nothing more vast or absolute.” I just squander the sacred beauty of what is.
On Saturday night, I had the privilege of attending Mass at St. John’s in the big HC, my home town. I find myself wondering, in a good way, how people can be Catholic or Orthodox. How can they be in the very real presence of Christ every Sunday and be able to stand it? Whenever I think about the fact that Jesus body and blood are literally ingested into the bodies of the followers of those two denominations, I always wonder if they recognize the beauty, the sacredness, the absolute wonder and majesty of that idea. Jesus is real, he is present, and he is giving, yet again, his body and blood for our consumption. I, for one, can only be in that very real presence of God every so often, because I feel so small in comparison, so unworthy, so ignorant.
On Saturday, I wondered how this glorious and holy mystery impacted those people who shared in the Eucharist. I, of course, did not because I am not Catholic. I do believe in transubstantiation, but I haven’t been baptized in the Catholic church, so I always abstain out of respect for their rules, expectations, or whatever. It’s probably for the best, because I am not sure I could stand it. When the Fr. Dave was emptying the bowl that the body had been resting in, and combining all of the blood into one chalice, I began to think of the sacrifice. It’s Lent, who wouldn’t think of the sacrifice? But when he lifted the chalice to his lips and swallowed down the rest of the body and blood, I lost it. I always tear up in the face of great reverence. How purely beautiful to not want any bit of your Lord to be wasted, to take in all of that pain and suffering and redemption!
On Sunday, I had another great moment with God in nature. I know, I know, a good protestant (forgive me I think I was a nun once in a former life) experiencing Jesus in the Catholic Church and then again in Nature?!? Ack. Maybe I’m not such a good Protestant after all, but how can you not experience God in this:
Especially with the flowers and the grass poking through the dead leaves and winter decay, how can a person not experience God?
So then tell me how is it with all of these bits of heaven presenting themselves to me, how is it that I can still get side tracked by thoughts such as these from Psalm 73?
For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.
They are free from common human burdens;
they are not plagued by human ills.
Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence.
From their callous hearts comes iniquity;
the evil conceits of their minds know no limits.
They scoff, and speak with malice;
with arrogance they threaten oppression.
Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
and their tongues take possession of the earth.
Therefore their people turn to them
and drink up waters in abundance.
They say, “How would God know?
Does the Most High know anything?”
This is what the wicked are like—
always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.
How can I be persuaded to compare myself to others? How can I let what other humans do bother me? I think it’s because
I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
And that’s not likely to change any time soon. But, by focusing on the present, not the past and not the future, maybe I can become less and less of a brute beast (see that future focus?). And maybe I can escape the past of dwelling on what seems unfair or irrational. I’m trying. Let’s hope it works.