Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink, or about your body, what you’ll wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are? Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life? …Therefore, don’t worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ Gentiles long for all these things. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them. Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
~ Matthew 6:25-34 (Common English Bible)
What time zone do you live in?
I’m not actually asking about your geography, rather, I’m asking about your temporal state of mind. In other words, do you live primarily in the past, in the future, or in the present? How much do you worry about what has already passed or about what has yet to happen? Or, how often do you fling your “true” life out into a dreamed-of time when everything will be just as you imagine it “should” be?
Ah, that last one. That’s the time zone I’ve spent most of my life in.
The verse above – fresh from its appearance in today’s readings for those churches following the same lectionary system – shows that long before Eckhart Tolle, Jesus was teaching about the power of now. Buddhists and others who embrace meditation call it “mindfulness” – that intentional perspective from within the present moment.
But how do we find the exit ramp for the whirlwind interstate of non-presentness? I think the best and only way is to ground ourselves fully in our bodies and in our sensory perception; it’s only when we allow our sights, smells, tastes, sounds, and bodily sensations to hold the core of our attention that we can truly be “in the moment.”
Let me tell you about my day so far.
Today, I was the guest musician at the Redlands (CA) First United Methodist Church, and as soon as I entered the sanctuary, I was struck by the beauty of the place, and especially loved the way the blue sky and the building across the street were visible through the huge round window. When it came time for my musical contribution, I began plucking the introductory notes of my arrangement of the traditional hymn “Abide with Me,” and I imagined myself as one with the guitar and as embodying the words. As I sang and played, I felt completely in my body, grounded in the now of the music.
On the way home, I marveled as I drove up Indian Hill Boulevard in Claremont at the beauty of the jacaranda trees as they waved bounteous purple blossoms above our heads, dangling and dropping them like confetti upon the streets and sidewalks. It felt like a joyous celebration.
The same energy was palpable in the farmers market, where the riotously colored produce in abundance and bustling shoppers all out enjoying the beautiful sunshine made it feel like a festival. And then, once home, I walked the dog and relished the almost beach-like breeze that danced across my skin. The breeze, combined with the retro scent of the sunscreen took me right back to the boardwalk at Seaside Heights, NJ and it seemed that if I listened closely, I might hear the surf, the carnival barkers, the music, and the merry-go-round.
Do I have worries? Sure. Like everyone, I wonder how the things I’ve invested my time, money, and passions in will turn out.
But today? Today, my friends, is beautiful.