Wednesday, April 3, 2013

to strip ourselves naked before God

In his book “The Mindful Traveler,” author Jim Currie describes the Buddhist practice of mindfulness or attentiveness as an invitation to pause and take in the marvel of the moment. 
“The Buddha taught that on everyone’s path are a series of opportunities, hindrances, and obstacles that in some way reflect what is inside us. Inner and outer reality dance together, giving us a chance to affirm our own higher powers and break out of our conditioned responses, attachments, and self-limitations. In some cases this simply requires breathing deeply and letting anxieties pass. In other cases, it requires taking stock of our surroundings, penetrating self-created distortions, asking ourselves--what is the big picture here? What is the pattern that I am caught up in? What choices am I making that determine my day? What forces and energies are at work that I am pointlessly opposing?”

Every day we are engaged in a miracle, wrote Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, a miracle 
“which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child––our own two eyes. All is a miracle...[M]indfulness itself is the life of awareness: the presence of mindfulness means the presence of life, and therefore mindfulness is also the fruit. Mindfulness frees us of forgetfulness and dispersion and makes it possible to live fully each minute oflife. Mindfulness enables us to live.”  
All we have to do, he said, is “enjoy each step you take.”

In our Catholic Christian tradition, living in the present moment is at the heart of living in the Spirit, of knowing that God is––and that He lives––in the here and now. Saints, mystics, and contemplatives throughout the centuries have written about the importance of recognizing the presence of God in each moment. 

In the brief yet powerful work “Abandonment to Divine Providence,” the 17th century French mystic and Jesuit priest Jean-Pierre de Caussade challenged believers to embrace the present moment as an ever-flowing source of holiness. He explained it this way, 
Every moment we live through is like an ambassador who declares the will of God...Everything works to this end and, without exception, helps us toward holiness. We can find all that is necessary in the present moment. We need not worry about whether to pray or be silent, whether to withdraw into retreat or mix with people, to read or write...What does matter is what each moment produces by the will of God. We must strip ourselves that we can wholly submissive to God’s will and so delight him. Our only satisfaction must be to live in the present moment as if there were nothing to expect beyond it.”
[from "The Journey: a Guide for the Modern Pilgrim," a book I co-wrote with my hubby of 31 years, Michael]