As the Synod Event Manager, I seem to be always looking back and critiquing the last event or always looking forward six months as I am planning the next event. I find myself more often than not, ignoring the present and in doing so, I miss the beauty of seeing the presence of God in the moment.
Sometimes an article just hits you at the right time like this one from Sue Richards, RN FCN and Parish Nurse for Covenant Lutheran Church in Stoughton. This Thanksgiving I’m grateful for people like Sue who serve to remind us what’s really important in this time and place…being present with the people we care about. Whether this is a time filled with struggle or a time of gratitude, and whether you are on the road gathering with family or friends this Thanksgiving or staying home with friends at church, try this out and then make it a way of life…it just might change yours!
“You must be present to win . . .
Sounds simple enough, eh? Well there is more to it than that. We have all heard this phrase many times. We have asked “Do we need to be present to win?” when entering into a contest or drawing. I was recently hit with this notion that Yes, you DO need to be PRESENT to win…in relationships that is.
I was sitting down one evening with my son, Fred. He was telling me about his day and I was slapped with this new reality. We were eating a late dinner and I was going over the day’s emails on the tablet beside my dinner plate. Bud was working late that night and had just called to “check-in.”
That night was so similar to so many but yet it was different. I was preoccupied with some situation that had happened earlier in the day and an email that had just arrived from a sibling. The correspondent on the radio was describing the latest conflict. At some point in the midst of this techno-multi-tasking moment Fred said “you aren’t even listening to me”. I replied with a “Huh?”… “Exactly” he replied.
I had asked him how his day had gone when I sat done at the dinner table. In return, I completely blocked him out with other distractions… Now, I know this was not intentional but it happened, much like any other day. I apologized, but the moment was gone. His response was “that’s OK, it doesn’t matter…” But it does matter! We have all been there. We feel badly for those lapses in attention to another. In this case, I really felt like the loser…and yet it was Fred that had lost as well. “One-on-one” time comes less frequently with teenage boys. We feel it in other relationships as well. Presence can become scarce as our lives get busier and busier. This is my experience and I am guessing that you may feel a similar angst. You may feel like you are constantly losing to the busy-ness of the world, the many demands of work, the pressures of the holiday season, whatever it may be that is distracting you…. I am here to tell you that you can regain focus.
The trick is: YOU need to BE PRESENT to win! Yes, this means focusing on the present. Put down the distraction (whatever that is) and look the person in the eye with folded hands. I have been intentional about this for about four weeks. WOW! It sure is rewarding. I am challenging you to do the same. There is much evidence today that this simple task can have great rewards. Try googling “mindfulness and presence.” At a recent retreat we offered a mindfulness exercise. Folks raved about it.
My holiday gift to you is actually disguised as a request. I am asking you to daily, at least once daily, to pick out one person and listen to them. Really listen…your presence and silent listening will be such a reward…for you both. Give it a try. What do you have to lose? The gift is waiting for you…but, YOU MUST BE PRESENT TO WIN!!!”
Happy Thanksgiving and Thank you Sue Richards of Covenant Lutheran Church! Oh and by the way, check out the Synod’s Speaker’s Bureau if you would like someone to come in and teach a mindfulness meditation class to your congregation or group. Rev. Chris Lee-Thompson currently teaches mindfulness meditation. www.scsw-elca.org/speakersbureau