I knew much more then than I do now

Saturday 8 December 2007

The present moment is beginning to unfold itself as something far deeper and broader than I ever thought possible. It's like something I knew once, unlearned, and am now relearning once again. In many ways, I knew more when I was a child than I know now. Children know the value of the Now. But it's in an experiential way - they don't know any different, so how could they articulate this?

Swimming in the present is like having a protective coating around you of losing yourself in the moment. Paradox. Losing your life to save it. The alternative is sitting out lightly on top of each moment. There are reasons for this. We learn self-protection. We learn that being immersed in the moment can mean that we get taken unawares by things out of our control. Problem is, sitting out too lightly on the surface of the present means that not only do we miss the deeper rumblings of God but we are easy prey for the past and the future to come pick us up in their talons and deposit us, further down or further back from where we are right now. The only reality. Now. The only place where we can make a difference. The only place where God is. The only real place of safety that we have.

Sitting out too lightly on top of the present, approaching unpleasantnesses loom bigger, casting longer shadows. Compare that to your experience as a child. Say you're at school this morning knowing that this afternoon you have to go and have a vaccination. Each time you think of the approaching doom, it fills you with dread. But still, as the day unfolds, you can't help but just throw yourself into the now that is here now, and you forgot the approaching doom. Until suddenly it's 15 minutes to go, and your teacher rounds you up to herd you off to the Injection Room of Doom. Before that you were oblivious, immersed in the playing of a game, giving yourself to it in a way you haven't unlearned how to do yet, so that when the teacher's voice pierces into your consciousness you're rocked with the jolt all over again. Sometimes as adults we forget how piercing it is living close to the ground.

I think this is the seed of our beginning to learn to sit out on the surface of things, a fear, a wariness of the buffettings of childhood that are the penalty for Now immersion. We think sitting up out there means that we won't get as many nasty surprises because we are forearmed. We can see the future stretched out before us, and we have a better chance of knowing when the bad things are coming. But we don't. Sitting up out here is very windy, and we get pecked with the crows of fear much more than we get shocked with the jolts of remembrance further down below. Down there, hidden in the earth, we learn communion with Him, learn that He didn't resist the jolts and calamities, that trying to arm ourselves against them is not done by arming ourselves with fear. To do so, we unwittingly cast our love and wonder and mystery aside in our quest for ultimate safety. We can't have both. We never could.

Happy Saturday.

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