“Where are you? What are you doing? Are you listening? Paying attention? Stay focused. Stop looking at your phone. Turn it off. Be here. Now. In the present. Be with who you are with. Talk with them. Live with them. Take some time. Think. Do you understand who you are? What you are called to do? Pause. Take it in. What is your community? What does local mean to you? Do you have a presence? If your church left the community what would happen? Would you have left a mark? Lead in the place you’re called to. Don’t worry about the past. The future will come later. It’s all about now. Here. Go all in. Be rooted. When you’re home, be home. Focus. Look at the big picture. Look at the small pictures. We need your undivided attention.”
This message is hanging on the wall of my office. Scrawled right over the top are the words “Be Present”. It’s an advertisement for a Catalyst conference that has come and gone. The ad is still on the wall as a reminder. Not that I need a conference. I need to be present.
Present with God.
Present with my wife.
Present with my family and friends.
Present with my neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances.
Present with my enemies.
Present with strangers.
Aware and available, this is present. Connected and concerned, this is present. Seeking and serving, this is present.
And I need to be more present.
I’ve had a few conversations lately with those who are celebrating the death of a loved one (yes, we celebrate death…death is not the end of life for those connected to Christ), which have brought this notion of being present to the forefront of my mind.
In each case, family members described a life lived for and with others. Story after story related the way these loved ones were made to feel loved. I especially like the sharing of a young woman describing they way her grandfather made her feel like she was his “favorite” and the realization that everyone he met, everyone in his presence had a similar feeling. this was a man who was present with people. Not merely occupying the same general space, but fully engaged, fully focused, fully related to the people around him.
What would it look like, feel like, be like for you to feel as if you are my favorite? Every time we spoke. Every time we spent time together. Every note or letter I sent. What if our relationship left you feeling special and important?
I want you to feel that from me. Even you casual reader half a world away. You too, stranger I may never physically meet. Everyone reading or hearing these words. You matter. You count. You are worth me being present for and with.
Of course, this is the relationship…the presence…offered us through the Holy Spirit. God has said, “I am present with you. Always.” (check out Brother Lawrence’s classic, The Practice of the Presence of God)
I’m not sure how you read that or how you have/haven’t experienced this presence. For me, it is fueling a renewed desire for relationship. For me, it is spurring me to consider the ways I am present with others. For me, it is a call to a new way of living.
Now, I have much growing to do to “be present”. But I’m willing and that’s a good start. The poster will stay up on my wall. It will yellow and fade and curl over on itself, but it will serve to remind me being present is a great topic to explore at a conference…more, it is a great way to live. You’ve got a lot going on in your world, in your life. Don’t just show up for it. Be present.
Read with your children.
Hold hands and take walks.
Turn off the noise and listen to the person you are with.
Look me in the eye.
Smell roses. Share coffee. Dance.
Say “no”, so you can say “yes” when it matters.
Leave the dishes so you can play the game.
Forget the dirt so you can remember to laugh.
Keep practicing. Keep dreaming. Keep loving.
Don’t just show up…Be Present!
Life is better together,