Shifting Perspective

A shift has slowly been taking place in my perspective of life.  When I was younger, I was proud and naive and relied much on my own self-righteousness.  Of course, this youthful way of life shrouded my ability to see my own pride especially because there was no outright malicious intent in my actions I believed, but they were selfish none the less.  I thought and acted in a way meant to glorify God and of course, his grace was always to love me and bless what little I offered him of myself, but I’m thankful that he didn’t leave me in this state.

The ego breaks down at some point and we are all faced with a mirror, will I continue to keep living this way or will I put my hope into something else, a life promised to each of us, but we realize will not come about on our own efforts.  Jesus’ words that if we try to save our own life we will lose it, but if we choose to lose our life, for his sake, we will live, begins to take on a whole new meaning, and slowly, slowly, the ego drowns in the fount of baptism and we begin to emerge into the true life.

Before my ego fell I remember reading Ann Voskamp’s words of a life of gratitude, the Eucharistic life and thinking if I just start keeping a daily journal of gratitude then I will transform.  It helped for a time of course but my efforts lost their steam.  Now, I take in the Eucharist every time it’s offered to me, drinking and eating it up.  I’m learning the fullness and richness of a Eucharistic life now, not because I did something but because I’m making space and communion with the Eucharist itself, and he, in turn, is transforming me so that my actions are becoming his actions.  What a different way to approach this life.

Before my ego fell, my heart ached with the word “present”, to be present in the current moment of my life and to be present to the Presence.  Again I read words of great saints who lived this life I puzzled to learn their secrets but not much was revealed or changed so that longing for presence sat inside of me for years.  You see before I was preoccupied by what was next, whether a small mundane task or the grander plans of life.  I said it was so I wouldn’t squander a moment or the gifts and talents given to me but ego once again shrouded the real reasons.  Really, I sought my own fame and the glory the accolades I would receive to feed my inner god.  Then the shroud fell and I was forced to confess my own sinful nature to myself.  It doesn’t seem like much but the more and more I sit in this humble state of confession, repeating the Our Father over and over, I make room for the Presence in my life and he shifts my perspective onto the present.  The funny thing, I didn’t try to do this on my own, nor was I aware of it.  God graciously pointed it out to me through my dear Spiritual Director.

I look back now and am so grateful for the perspective of time.  Before I thought if I could just read a book or intently study the Scripture or put into place new habits and disciplines I would bring about my transformation.  These things did produce beautiful fruit in my life but still, that veil existed and I was blind that my own pursuits which mostly came from my self-will which would only take transformation so far.  This is the state of our youthful, dare I say, adolescent mind state, which puts ego in the center and allows the Pharisaical mindset to dominate.

I encourage you if you’re tired of doing things your way, thinking they are God’s way and you’re coming up short, don’t be afraid to face the mirror and try something new, something different.  Many will walk away from the mirror and try a little harder or try something different but I promise it will all lead back to the same roadblock.  To truly live, do as Jesus instructed and lose your life.  Sit with God and ask him how.  Sitting in silence and solitude is the start and it is the end of a life well-lived in love.

 

The Present Moment

Too often when I stop and catch my thought pattern I find I am distracted by what has happened, reliving the what and when and how over and over, or I’m preoccupied with what is coming ahead, the to-do list, the maybe, the unknown I’m trying to control.  In either instance I am very rarely focused on where God is with me.  My thoughts are inward.

God’s gentle voice calls me out of that headspace and slowly I am attuning my heart to follow where it leads, and often where it leads it to the moment right before my eyes.  The more I discipline myself to practice the present moment I see that it has nothing to do with the human construct of time, instead, it draws our attention to the thin veil that separates our world with heaven and in that space, we meet God and we experience joy.

God has given me wise teachers in life who are always attuned to the present in the form of my three small children.  Children are not distracted with what has been or what the future might hold, they have no concept of time.  At any given moment I know exactly what my children are thinking and feeling, engrossed in story time, building a world of make-believe, feeling the deep hurt after falling off a bike, or the disappointment of no dessert.  They feel happiness and fear and sadness and all the things I believe because they are so present to their true selves at that moment.

One day I was playing with my three year old and he kept getting frustrated with me.  I realized I wasn’t having much fun either and then I realized it was because I wasn’t actually playing.  I was thinking of all the things I should be doing, could be doing.  And then it hit me, be present to this moment, the one that is gifted me right now.  As I could fully give myself over to play I felt peace and I felt joy and happiness and fun.  I connected with myself and my son deeply and when we do that, we always connect with God as well.

I think back to the moment I sat at my father’s death bed and watched his last breaths slip away.  I characterize that moment as feeling the deepest joy and deepest sorrow in my life.  I felt deeply because I was present deeply to the thin veil.  At that moment I knew God presence and I knew my true self to be present.

If we want to be people who are fully alive then I believe we must be people who are fully present.  Perhaps this is just one more way we must become like little children to inherit the kingdom of God.  The smaller the child the less the false self has guarded them off and so the easier it is for them to just be present.  Today let us listen to the gentle voice that calls us to him.