Wednesday, July 29, 2009
It's never tomorrow
I have always had a hard time making good on the knowledge that to be truly happy I need to learn to enjoy the moment I'm in rather than always looking forward to some other moment in time when I might be happy. It's that whole idea of finding peace and joy even in the menial things -- washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, finishing a work project, driving the kids to soccer camp. Even those seemingly mundane moments can be fulfilling if we approach them with the right attitude, a here-and-now attitude. But, boy, that's a hard attitude to live with on a regular basis. It's easy to cultivate it on retreat or on vacation or maybe even on a slow weekend. But day after day, chore after chore, it can be difficult to stay right here, right now. Our minds want to race ahead. Once I finish the dishes, I can relax. After I clean the bathrooms, I'll go for a walk. If I can just finish this story, I'll feel less stressed. But what happens? We finish the dishes, clean the bathroom, write the story, and suddenly we are in a new present moment worrying about the next thing.
One morning not long ago, 4-year-old Chiara woke up and asked, "Is it tomorrow?" The night before she had been trying to understand the concept of yesterday, today, tomorrow. I said, "No, now it's today." She looked confused. "It's never tomorrow," I said, finding myself just as intrigued by that notion as she was.
It's never tomorrow. It's always right now. Which is a really beautiful reality, if we can learn to embrace it.
I was working on something for the Benedictine Sisters yesterday and was reflecting on the Rule of St. Benedict and the fact that the great saint did not say, Pray, pray pray. He said, work and pray. Ore et labore. In other words, our lives must be a balance and we must become aware of God's presence not only when we are kneeling in a chapel or sitting in silence but when we are scrubbing a floor or making lunch for our kids.
Balance. Our lives will always involve chores and responsibilities, moments of busyness as well as moments of rest. If we can enter into each moment with an awareness of God's presence, every action -- even eating a sandwich or washing a window or mowing the lawn -- becomes a prayer.
It's never tomorrow. It's always right now.