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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.

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Sister Rosemary Nudd

Sister Rosemary Nudd retired after 30 years in the English Department at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She now volunteers helping with tours at Providence Spiritually and Conference Center at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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23 Comments

  1. Jeanne Kenny. S.P. on September 5, 2020 at 7:25 am

    Thank you Rosenary for your heartfelt personal reflection.
    Living in this Covid-19 now period for about six months is a daily reminder that God is with us during this global suffering.
    So, stay safe and keep hope alive now!

    P.S. Remember our “corn on the cob” story from 50 + years ago when you were teaching in the St. Lous high school and Barb and I were visiting for a ministry experience; we were canonical or more likely, scholastic novices. We surely shared a hearty laugh about one of the many versatile uses for using a corn on the cob ear.
    I know this is a unique sharing from the past…not a niw story, so be it.

    Blessings and gratitude,
    Jeanne

  2. Joni Luna on September 5, 2020 at 7:45 am

    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.

    May it be so. Thank you Sister Rosary for such the powerful, thought provoking, soul feeding nourishment.
    You inspire me.

    Love ya loads 😘 💓 💛

  3. Peg Benson on September 5, 2020 at 8:44 am

    This gift from our beloved Roe, is my “must-have” if I was stranded on a desert island – or daily, seeking reassurance that the Holy One is with us.

    • Jeanne Kenny on September 6, 2020 at 7:54 am

      Thank you Rosemary for your timely article. The song “BE” by Neil Diamond would be an appropriate “bookend” with your meaningful reflection, Rosemary.
      Be safe and keep HOPE alive!

      Bkessings to you,
      Jeanne

  4. Michelle Barrentine on September 5, 2020 at 9:25 am

    I needed this in my life right now when I am so distracted and not at all certain I can complete my commitments. Thank you, S. Rosemary.

  5. Marsha speth on September 5, 2020 at 9:55 am

    You said it so well…my experience, our experience! We are always in the Presence!
    Thank you!

  6. Lori Strawn on September 5, 2020 at 11:03 am

    Oh, Shug…this is gloriously beautiful. I, too, struggle to Be Here. Your words were just the balm and spark my soul needed today!

  7. Sister Mary Montgomery on September 5, 2020 at 1:29 pm

    Thanks, Roe!
    Listening to “Let It Be” on Pandora now…. YOU “whispered words of wisdom” today. Love it! Called to go to the lake and BE in Presence.

  8. Bill Hughes on September 5, 2020 at 2:59 pm

    Thank you, S. Rosemary. Recently I came across this new take on an old saying:
    NOW . . . HERE . . . THIS . . .
    It can be used as a mantra for meditation.

  9. Donna Butler on September 5, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    Roe,
    How true but sometimes so difficult to stay in the present moment! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  10. Connie SP on September 5, 2020 at 6:38 pm

    Thanks Roe for your sacred reflections. Hope you continue to let God do for you what you cannot do for yourself.

  11. Thomas J. Golden on September 6, 2020 at 12:33 am

    Thank your for the insightful and prayerful thoughts. A Holy Cross Brother many years ago wisely told a group of student brothers that we were usually so busy attending to the urgent needs in our lives that we missed the big important needs and ideas. I don’t think he meant to suggest we ignore the urgent needs, but more that we keep them balanced, like a good cook is aware of what’s happening on ALL the burners on a stove top, or the way a good teacher is aware of ALL the students’ needs in the classroom, even though at the present the urgent needs of one or two come to the forefront.

    Sometimes we worry ourselves over what we are doing, concerned about are we doing enough, or are we doing that adequately, or making a difference at all. It can be frustrating, especially if it involves waiting. Then the retired English teacher in me remembers John Milton’s wonderful sonnet that ends, “They also serve who only stand and wait.” Is that not like “Be Here” and “Be Present”?

  12. Anne Therese Falkenstein, S.P. on September 6, 2020 at 1:27 am

    Rosemary,

    Your reflection has deeply touched my very nostalgic heart. Thank you.

  13. Jenny Howard on September 6, 2020 at 5:25 pm

    Thanks, Roe, for your beautiful reflection! As one of our housemates says often “I’m here”…trying to practice what you so reflectively described…to be here!!!

  14. Jennifer Nowalk on September 7, 2020 at 9:39 am

    Thank you for this beautiful description/reminder. My Pen and Paper wait for me to put your wonderful prayer in writing!

  15. Rae Huffman on September 8, 2020 at 11:28 am

    This was just what I needed to hear. I have been too much in the past since my 80th Birthday and being stuck in because of covid. My commitment as an associate is due and now I have a direction to go in when writing it.

  16. Will HINE on September 9, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    What a wonderful and insightful Reflection!!
    I have been researching the word Providence, Now, Sovereignty . Presence ..This reflection was so helpful to me in putting my thoughts together and not living in the past. As Richard Rohr would say moving from doing to being.
    Thank you again,

  17. Joanna Dailey on September 15, 2020 at 9:20 am

    Thank you, Rosemary, for bringing “the sacrament of the present moment” to conscious reflection for our lives today!
    Blessings to you here, now, there, and everywhere!

  18. Stephen Modde on September 15, 2020 at 2:02 pm

    So often, like when I am cooking in the kitchen, my mind drifts to odd thoughts, e.g. a past gathering or conversation with friends, or a past friend I tried to contact with no response; or a cousin who told me he agrees with my nephew who told him that the nephew wants nothing to do with me because I’m gay. Meaningful to read that you are frequently distracted when attending to daily prayer or duties. Your article teaches me, once again, that it’s best to just try to stop and say, “I am who I am. And it’s all in the hands of Divine Providence.” Thanks for this article.

  19. Jane Fischer PA on September 15, 2020 at 2:37 pm

    See and read this here/now quiets me here/now….

    Thank you, danke, merci and xie xie

  20. Sheila Donis on September 16, 2020 at 9:52 am

    Rosemary, your words and being fill my heart!

  21. Eileen Horan on September 18, 2020 at 1:04 pm

    S. Rosemary, these words of yours are just what I needed to hear HERE AND NOW. May God bless you in your days and may all of us learn how to surrender to Providence!

  22. Mary Tomlinson on September 18, 2020 at 1:22 pm

    Rosemary. Just beautiful. Surely a reflection of my daily struggle. To be conscious of God in each of the present moments of the day. It’s good to know others struggle with me. Be well on the journey!

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