The Present Moment

nascar-bump-draft“I can’t believe how fast things move on the outside. The world went and got itself into a big damn hurry.” Brooks, from the film Shawshank Redemption.

I get speeding tickets and maybe you do as well. But, I have yet to meet anyone else who has received a ticket from Highway Patrol for following to close (I am the #8 car). It was 15 years ago on the 405 in Los Angeles when Frank Poncherello did me, and you, a favor by citing me. Those who have ridden with me may begin shaking head from right to left and say, “I am not surprised.”

Don’t get me wrong being speedy works well in work and life. The snappy ones are almost never late for work, their assignments are done early and things just seem to get done. Of course, this mode of living does not lend itself to prayer. Metropolitan ANTHONY Bloom in his fantastic little book, Beginning to Pray, said,

We can pray to God only if we are established in a state of stability and inner peace face to face  with God, and these things release us from the sense of time – not objective time, the kind we watch – but the subjective sense that time is running fast and that we have no time left. Hurry is what prevents us from being completely in the present moment, which I dare say is the only moment in which we can be, because even if we imagine that we are ahead of time or ahead of ourselves, we are not. This is the kind of thing we must learn about prayer, to establish ourselves in the present.

Hurry ruins prayer because prayer, and life itself, happens in the present and those in a hurry are never in the present they are always rushing from the past into the future being nowhere at any moment.

Do you know that story about Christ being in the boat with His disciples on the Sea of Galilee? He is asleep when an intense storm comes up that panics the disciples. They wake Jesus and say, “Don’t you care that we are perishing?” And Jesus stands up and tells the storm to be still, to be quiet. Two things are true;  storms come to all and we are able to have the same stillness Jesus has in the present moment. Staying face to face with God calms storms and / or allows the storm to rage around us while we remain where God is.

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3 Comments

Filed under Regarding the Present Moment

3 responses to “The Present Moment

  1. Reader John Herman

    The Big Con

    Famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung was a better theologian than many might guess. He said: “Hurry isn’t of the Devil; it is the Devil!” And, the Devil, I’m told, is ‘the father of lies’ — the master of ‘The Big Con.’

    Every effective sting operation has a confidence man — “a swindler who exploits the confidence of his victim.” Remember Paul Newman and Robert Redford’s 1973 blockbuster? The Saturday Evening Post-styled title cards laid out each phase of ‘The Sting’ to Marvin Hamlisch’s adaptation of Scott Joplin’s piano rag, “The Entertainer.” At the center, was the dupe who’d been taken.

    Tackling one’s ‘Things To Do’ list can be something of a horse race. I start the day betting I can get 13 items done by 4:00 pm—my arbitrary finish line. My energy is good. It’s an open track: nothing complicated, just a clicking clock and some task boxes. I boot the computer, the bell rings, and the gates spring open. My Outlook calendar is up-to-date. I’m good. The task list boxes are just waiting for the check marks. And…I’m off! The adrenalin is pumping. Dentist appointment? Check! Call to confirm tomorrow’s meeting? Check! Eleven to go and it’s only 8:06 am. ‘Oh yeah, I’m there!’

    2:17 pm. Clicking box #11 with relief and satisfaction. I’m increasing my wager. I’ve got it nailed. I can’t lose; and the odds are all in my favor.

    Task #12: Confirm data validity and generate analysis report for tomorrow’s 8:00 am meeting. Only 546 items requiring internet access. My blood pressure rises. Anxiety is building…and, then, my six-year-old computer (a flood victim / survivor) gives me pause. The cursor freezes. Did I ‘save’? Oh, man, tell me I ‘saved’. I’ve done this for how many years? Of course, I ‘saved.’ Right? No response.

    3:29 pm. Locked up. Rebooting with this sinking feeling in my gut.

    3:56 pm and I haven’t even acquired access to the data to be analyzed. In fact, maybe I never will. The cursor’s locked up again… and so am I. So much for that bet!

    4:22 am. Journal entry: ‘Skipped Morning Prayers again. God will understand. He’s a loving, omniscient God. Note: Book Idea—The Law of Competing Demands’.

    5:16 am. Coffee’s brewed. I’m on Item #387. No problem. I can do this. Really I can. Analysis is nothing once you’ve got the data confirmed. Right? ‘Okay…and SAVE’. Energy’s lagging. 159 to go.

    5:52 am. Data confirmed. Analysis complete. Who needs a shower? Better to make the meeting on time. I’ll grab a bagel downtown.

    6:14 am. Stepping on to Light Rail. All’s good. Glance at Task List on laptop. I love Outlook! Task No. 13: Read article: “Misconceptions About Time — How We Deceive Ourselves Every Day,” Time Management Guide Part 2.

    7:38 am. Realize laptop is in Office 2003 software; report in 2007. Feeling duped.

    8:03 am. The floor is mine. The executive team looks up expectantly. “Gentlemen, have you ever been to the horse races and placed a bet?”

    Know the feeling? Well, somewhere in there I just wanted to find a moment for God, thought about Carl Jung’s theology, and had this odd yearning for a monastery. Then, one of my favorite quotes from German dramatist, novelist, poet, and scientist, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 – 1832) flashed through my mind: “We are never deceived; we deceive ourselves.”

    So, who was the ‘confidence man’ here?

    Oh…and did I mention the sound of engines passing me while I kicked my horse at the last turn?

  2. Joan Kirkpatrick

    Reading this blog reminded me of something John Ortberg wrote about ” hurry sickness.” I think it is in his book, “If You Want to Walk on the Water You Have to Get Out of the Boat.”
    All I know is that I have had many bouts with hurry sickness. Thanks for your reminder, helps!

  3. megpickrell

    I think I was kind of hurrying through the blog… hmmm… maybe I should re-read it in the present moment.

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