We had great plans for today.
It has been a rough week; I have been working overtime assisting my colleagues with the H1N1 onslaught, Michelle has been taking care of sick kids and her responsibilities at the Mission, and the condition of the home reflects our absence. Last night we made grandiose plans to get the kids up early, do a complete home-makeover, and get the place in ship-shape. It didn’t happen.
Our plans also included taking my vehicle to the Mission “mechanic” (a title proudly bestowed on any auto repair shop owner who will bill us rather than demand payment at pick up). We have a running joke that every Mission vehicle (most are donated) must have at least five major problems to qualify as a St. Luke’s car, and mine well-exceeds that number. Here are but a few of my vehicular woes in no apparent order: No rear-view mirror: check. Brakes shot: check. Check-engine light blaring: check. Screaming belts: check. Bald tires: check. Heater fan inoperable: check. Dropped off at the mechanic: nope.
Just before noon I donned the appropriate denim and flannel and informed my beloved that I was going out; when she asked where I felt sheepish and reluctant to answer. Oh, what the heck, I thought. “I’m going to look at leaves.” There was a moment of uncomfortable silence as she considered my statement. She was folding laundry, and had that “I’ve got a million things to do” look that women sometimes get, accompanied with a chiseled scowl that could have been a transplant from General Patton. I broke the silence: “Do you want to go with me?”
After fulfilling my role as hunter-gatherer in the drive through of the local Timmy’s we drove away eating biscuit and egg sandwiches while sipping French-vanilla cappuccinos (definitely not a lumberjack breakfast, but those are tough to come by in the city). All the while Michelle was relating in minute detail the challenges of her students. I enjoy listening to her stories; I like the little ones she teaches and I love to hear about their progress. We pulled into the park and I continued to listen. I realized that this was a conversation that might not end any time soon. The leaves were no longer calling. They were screaming. It was time to enter the present.
We are a people on the move, constantly running from task to task. We have accomplished so much, but we have likewise lost much. Our ability to wonder in God’s handiwork has been lost, and moments such as these seem so magnanimous precisely because we have lost touch with nature. Living in the present moment is a challenge, a discipline that must be practiced. There is much to be gained: peace, silence, and gratitude.
St. Faustina knew that well. She penned this prayer in her first diary:
O My God,
When I look into the future, I am frightened.
But why plunge into the future?
Only the present moment is precious to me,
As the future may never enter my soul at all.
It is no longer in my power
To change, correct or add to the past;
For neither sages nor prophets could do that.
And so, what the past has embraced I must entrust to God.
O Present Moment, you belong to me, whole and entire.
I desire to use you as best I can.
And although I am weak and small
You grant me the grace of your omnipotence.
And so, trusting in Your mercy,
I walk through life like a little child,
Offering You each day this heart
Burning with love for Your greater glory.