As to the past, let us entrust it to God’s mercy, the future to divine Providence. Our task is to live holy the present moment.
St. Gianna Molla
The ancient Celts had a way of describing places that seemed holy or mystical: thin spaces. These spaces were places where it seemed that heaven and earth were just a hair breadth from each other. For many years, people made pilgrimages to these places- cathedrals, monasteries, shrines, islands, and mountains- where it seemed so easy to imagine GOD living there or at least being present especially in that place.
A challenge for myself is being wholly present in the sacrament of the present moment that I see Christ in it no matter the circumstances. Over the last couple of months, I have found that I tend to spend more time regretting the past and planning the future without living in the sacred breathe of each and every moment, fully being open to Christ’s mercy and grace that is poured out in the good and bad (at least in those simplistic categories in how I perceive them).
As Paulo Coelho writes in Warriors of Light:
“God uses silence to teach us to use words responsibly. He uses tiredness so that we can understand the value of waking up. He uses illness to underline the blessing of good health. God uses fire to teach us about water. He uses earth to explain the value of air. He uses death to show us the importance of life.”
The present moment, even if filled with suffering and pain, is a way for God to speak to us His Grace. As CS Lewis famously wrote in The Problem of Pain, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains.” What Lewis is telling us is that Christ, having suffered terribly a death undeserved, is with us in our moments of suffering, pain, and depression. He is there and asks us like Thomas- to stick our hand in his wounds to feel Life Himself.
Right now, right here, as we breathe in a new breath that we have never experienced before, let us remember Christ is here with us, in this sacrament of grace found in the present.
I awaken each morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.
A theme running in my life has been finding balance– balance between activity and rest, movement and contemplation, yin and yang– in order to become a complete and whole person.
I noticed it first in my prayer– I never stopped to listen, to sense, to revel in the Word Made Flesh– for in that time I was focused on the action, the movement from prayer to prayer to reading to prayer without taking time to sit and be still. I then found it in my mind and my breath, where my mind was constantly in motion from one item to the next without stopping. My breath was shallow– unfocused and unnoticed– as a secondary function of my body. My battle with anxiety made it even worse as the shallower my breath got, the faster my heart raced, the more my mind worried, and the more I couldn’t stop the cycle from spiraling downward into panic and fear and depression.
When I first started practicing yoga with Yin Yoga six months ago, I found myself noticing my breath and the shallowness. There was a hesitation on my part, a block there, that prevented me from breathing deeply. Sitting on my mat, the active part of myself would overpower my mind and I would lose focus. Even now, I’ll have a train of thought that will take my practice completely off track. The beauty of yoga is that it’s a reminder that we are all still practicing, there are no perfect practitioners, but all are perfectly imperfect students. Christ has met me in yoga in that it’s only through His Grace that my strength is made whole.
Back to the quote, we all have this balance to keep within our lives between action and contemplation, and that’s the important thing– the balance. Always trying to save the world will leave you tired and dead. Always trying to savor the world will leave you disconnected and lazy. Our aim is to find the balance in our lives that we live from our rest to be active, that we want to save the world entirely because it’s worth is what we savor. We love entirely because He first loved us– that He gives us grace for us to give grace.
It is the paradox of the Warrior Monk and the Soldier of Love. We are strong in order to bring shalom, or peaceful wholeness. We are both/and not either/or.
Live from the Shalom of Christ in order to show the world His Eucharistic love.