Being present

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It’s startling to know that everywhere you read, there is a consciousness of the importance of being present with yourself, to take out time for yourself and to create space, even amidst all that we have to do.

Omid Safi writing in On Being says with great clarity about being present when he sets out to demonstrate the importance of being present with ourselves:

Presence means to have the fullness of who we are with us.

What does it mean to pray with this Presence?

So much of our lives are spent in a fractured state of heart.

We are, too often, scattered.

We speak about being scatterbrained. The truth of the matter is that the scatteredness is much more systematic. We are scattered at every level: body, soul, mind, spirit.

We do this to ourselves.

We throw ourselves to the past, often clinging to a past pain and trauma.

Or, we hurl ourselves towards the future, attaching ourselves to a hope for the future, or fear of losing something.

We are in the past, or in the future, everywhere but here.

It’s not always easy to stay here for a while in the present. To be awake to the present and lean into it. There is so much that has happened and so much to think ahead about.

David Wagoner argues similarly about being present with the Here in his poem Lost. I love the bit where he says ‘Wherever you are called is Here/And you must treat it as a powerful stranger …’

LOST

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you

Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,

And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,

Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,

I have made this place around you.

If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.

No two trees are the same to Raven.

No two branches are the same to Wren.

If what a tree of a bush does is lost on you,

You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest know

Where you are. You must let it find you.

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