I have a wonderful spiritual director through The Claret Center in Hyde Park. We’ve been meeting for about 8 months and focusing on how to achieve balance in my life.
In other words, how can I rest? What stops me from renewing? Why do I let my sabbath time slip so easily away? How can I change the spirit with which I go through my days?
She asked me again this week…Well, really, I ask the questions, then she says, “what do you think?”
We sit on folded blankets and cushions on the floor facing each other, and I stared at the hard wood floor for a long time before answering her.
It boils down to this. I live most of the time with my mind in the future. I am very often thinking about all the things I have yet to do. I’m being overwhelmed by the things I haven’t done and I’m asking myself when I will do them. I’m feeling that I haven’t done enough, that I won’t be able to do enough, and that I’m therefore not good enough. There’s some way I need to become, there’s some place I need to get to. That way and that place are not here yet, so there’s some future that I’m half living into, grasping for.
I am RARELY living exactly in this moment now. And so my life flies by distractedly, filled with “never enough”–a week finished, an entire season gone, a year passed, 10 years completed doing my work in ministry. But much of the time it goes so fast because I’m already living in the next minute, the next day, the next week.
What if NOW is enough? What if the whole thing is here, now? What if all of my life, it’s right here, now? All of God’s love, it’s right here now. What if there’s nothing more than this?
I have the sense that if I could stop living in the future, that my days would actually feel longer. My days would certainly be calmer. I would notice more the beauty that is all around me. I would realize what a miracle it is that not only is my heart beating, but so is yours.
This self-examination I’m sharing is not an invitation for you to worry about me. I am in spiritual direction; I’m taking care of myself. But this is an invitation to see if you identify with the anxiety of striving. As we work on all these aspects of ourselves, we work with the same issues on subtler and subtler levels.
There are two widows featured in the bible readings for this Sunday, both of whom gave something away that it seemed they needed to survive into the future. The widow of Zarephath fed Elijah from the last available meal she had for herself and her son. She was prepared to die because of the drought and consequent famine that was going on. But suddenly, there was enough food to last until the rains came. She didn’t die of starvation.
The second widow is the one who gives away her last two coins to the Temple treasury. Jesus points out to his disciples that she has put more into the treasury than the gobs of money that the wealthy are offering.
What did she put in the offering plate that was more than money?
Did she put in all her fear about the future? Did she put in any last illusion that she was in control of her future?
We can’t know what the widow felt when she gave her last two coins away. But maybe she felt free. Maybe she was living exactly in that moment, and what she had to give, she gave. Maybe her whole life was complete in that moment. And she did what was the most joyful, the most generous, the most free.
The image is digitally manipulated by me, from a photograph by Marwa Morgan with Creative Commons license.