Be here now
A disciple approached the teacher, asking how to know the Holy One.
“Be Here,” answered the teacher.
“’Be here’?” cried the student. “You have seen me every day for many months, meditating, praying, reading, working, striving to know the Holy One. I have never left the walls of this monastery! And you tell me to ‘be here’?”
“Ah,” replied the teacher. “You are usually Somewhere Else.”
— Joan Chittister, OSB
The good old days
“Nostalgia” has Greek roots, meaning “return home” and “pain,” and it’s a feeling that has long been easy for me to come by. In fact (as my friends will tell you, sometimes ruefully), I rather enjoy the sweet sorrow of reminiscing about the past, when the days were invariably good old ones. Yet no one — especially during these surreal days — needs familiarity with Greek to feel a longing for when this time of year meant going back to school (once so simple!), and Labor Day family gatherings (when who would bring the potato salad was the chief worry).
Nevertheless, most of us probably sense that for all its pleasures, nostalgia must be taken in small doses. Experience has shown that nostalgia has the power to lure us out of reality, to take us from “Here” to “Somewhere Else”—never a healthy way to live, let alone to live love, mercy and justice.
God in the present
Even more important, many religious traditions see the God of their understanding as a living God, present to Creation in every moment of the Here and Now — always available, always loving, always reaching out to comfort and forgive, to strengthen and empower, to share the divine life called grace.
And yet — isn’t there always an “and yet”? — recognizing this truth, seeing or even acknowledging God’s presence in each of my moments, has seldom come easily for me. It’s something I have been puzzling over and praying for and doing my best to practice for my 50+ years as a Sister of Providence, with the help of the Spirit and many teachers and companions along the way.
How do I live in the now?
And still today, whether it be the tedious chores imposed by the pandemic, or the welcome joys of cooking, singing, walking and worshiping, or my attempts to reflect and pray, my busy buzzing mind usually insists on being Somewhere Else, without my choice or consent.
So how I do I live with, or more accurately live in, this daily difficulty? A practice (I’m still practicing), of remembering, intention, and surrendering has become, quite literally, a God-send: remembering that everything is in the hands of Providence and not even remotely in mine; intending to savor each moment for what it is, rather than searching for a specific manifestation of God; and surrendering every bit of it, with gratitude and relief, to the One who knows and loves me beyond all telling. Whew!
Let us pray:
You whose name is Providence, you whose name is Love: do with me whatever you will, whatever you desire and dream for me, every instant of my life. Grant that I may Be Here, where your faithful love flows through Time like a strong invisible current, carrying me from moment to moment to moment until I live with you in the eternal Here.