Pay attention to the present moment

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, “It is going to rain”; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, “There will be scorching heat”; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to pay attention to the present moment?
—Luke 12.56

Most versions translate the last phrase as “interpret the present time,” but that sounds too much like understanding mysterious signs, like reading chicken entrails. Luke’s Greek verb means something closer to “check out,” or even “confirm,” and his word for time is kairos: the decisive instant, the present moment. Jesus’ saying is not about predicting the future or even analyzing current events; it’s about being present. It’s not about assenting to doctrines or end-of-the-world scenarios; it’s about paying attention.

It’s also about paying attention to what we pay attention to. We watch the weather, or the stock market, or how well our team is doing– but do we pay attention to what is going on right now, in this moment, in ourselves, in our souls, in those around us, and in the world? Do we shed our assumptions, our dogmas and our axes to grind and just pay attention?

These words follow Jesus’ teaching about how our self-differentiation will evoke other people’s anxiety, and hence their opposition. The antidote to this conflict is not to fight back, nor to break off relationships, but to be even more mindful of what is, to pay attention to the nugget at the heart of things (and of ourselves) that is True.

There is a garden deep in our heart, a place where we are simply who we are, where we are most authentically ourselves, where we are least influenced by other people’s opinions and fears and yet most freely self-reflective and open. It is a garden where the person God creates us to be grows like a fruit-bearing vine, free of the weeds of other people’s anxious projections onto us. It is in this place of Truth where Christ meets us, and invites us, by his own steady presence, to remain.

This true self is not something we can create; it is a gift. To pay attention to the present moment and to attend to What Is in us and to choose to be our God-given selves in this deeply rooted way is an interior experience of the Realm of Grace, the “Kingdom of God.” The more we practice this presence, the more fully we can resist the world’s anxieties and its fear-based divisions, and proclaim the Realm of God. When we are faithful to our true selves in God, we participate in the healing of the world.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes

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