How quickly we forget the lessons we suffered so long to learn.
Though I have never been so lucky as to boast a collection of porcelain figurines with sad, tear-drop eyes, I do have a collection of precious moments, made all the preciouser when I take time to notice that I’m in the midst of one such moment. I thought this a lot when we were in France last summer, wanting to suck up every minute, not losing a beat, not shutting my eyes to any experience–even walking down the street.
It’s funny, though, the other times that strike me as precious in retrospect usually aren’t exceptional in the moment. Taking an early morning run on Duke’s West campus, walking down Morningside Drive to the place I housesat in Edinburgh, or stopping in at my favorite frozen yogurt store in St. Louis–these mostly mundane experiences are so sweet when I reflect on them now.
This evening I remembered that I’m in the middle of another such moment–this sacred time in the mountains, walking to yoga camp and back to the grocery store, hot, sticky days and cold showers to calm down for bed. Surely I’ll look back on these days with the same affection and warmth that other exceptional adventures have afforded me.
What’s even more important to realize, though, is that every moment has the capacity to be a precious moment. It doesn’t have to be a far-flung locale, a grand adventure, or any thing out of the “ordinary.” Every moment, if we approach each one with awe and expectation, can surprise, delight, challenge, and transform us–if we allow it and are open to the change we’ll undergo.
I’m reminded of the bit of the book, Screwtape Letters: the present moment is the point at which humans touch eternity. There is great possibility in meeting God, in experiencing growth, in celebrating something precious every single moment, if only we will hold and recognize each moment’s precious offering.
Six years ago, I visited Barcelona with my family in the summer, just before I started divinity school. I’d just started to admit to people–sometimes for the shock value–that I was headed toward the priesthood. When we went to the Picasso museum there, I was completely captured by this sketch Pablo made early in his career. A postcard depiction has been on my desk ever since. That morning, still jet lagged, I saw Jesus in this man.
Having spent time with homeless men in Durham over the last year, I’d started to meet Jesus again in them. God has many facets, some of them are manifest in the homeless, in the hungry, in the crazy. My prayer is to be softhearted enough to recognize God’s presence in the forgotten people I encounter every day.
1. Newly recovered vintage chair cushions; took 4 hours, cost $6. Feeling of accomplishment? Priceless. Continue reading