By Jason Bowman
My son stepped up to the mic in his first grade play. I had my phone up, camera on. I moved closer and knelt down. Clicking the button, I watched my son through the tiny screen of my iPhone 6. As I headed back to my seat, I saw another parent videoing her child, but she had her iPhone focused on the big screen above where the play was being projected so audience members in the back could see it better. That moment struck me. She was watching her daughter’s performance through the small screen on her phone with her phone “watching” the performance on a different screen. I remember looking at my own phone I had used to watch my son perform and asking myself: Are we so busy trying to capture the moment for the future that we aren’t present in the moment itself?
Temptation to miss the present moment assails us from every side. We might call it making memories or multitasking or just doing important work, but it still means we are not fully present in the moment. What are we missing because of this?
Mary was the opposite. The Scripture records how Mary was often fully present in the moment. When the shepherds came and told her about the angels, the Bible tells us that she “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). When Simeon spoke a blessing over Jesus, Mary “marveled” (Luke 2:33). After finding Jesus in the temple when he was twelve, Mary again “treasured all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51). In each case, whatever distractions might have sidetracked her, whatever multitasking or important work she might have needed to do, she chose instead to be present in the moment.
What might she have missed if she had not made that choice? The shepherds proclaimed that Jesus was the long awaited messiah who would bring great joy! Mary pondered this. How might those words that she as fully present to receive have brought Mary comfort as Jesus grew up? When his parents left Jesus in Jerusalem and later found him in the temple, he reminded them that he had to be in his Father’s house (Luke 2:49). I wonder if the words from the shepherds about who Jesus was didn’t help Mary accept that explanation from her twelve year old son? I wonder if those words gave her some amount of courage she would not have had otherwise when her son had to go to the cross?
Here is the point: Mary was in the moment when the shepherds came to her home. That means she got to experience their joy, feel her own joy about her son, and take that moment into the future with her to impact her life. We have that same opportunity in our lives if we will make the same choice.
Here are some thoughts for living more in the present
Practice savoring something (coffee, food, a sunset, a gift, etc)
Celebrate tiny joys
Name or identify the moment you are in by considering how you are feeling, what is around you and what you are thinking about
Listen to someone talk without thinking about what you will say next. Just focus on them and hearing them.
Identify distractions in your life and remove what you can.
Slow down and relish whatever rituals you have and think only about that ritual (a cup of coffee, a walk, toasting and eating a piece of bread, taking a bath, sowing, etc)
Journal about your day or at least spend time reflecting on your day
There are other ways, but these are a few practices that can help us practice being more fully present in the moment so we do not lose the treasure of our moments.