In the midst of the busiest quarter of my professional life, we returned on Friday from two weeks in France. It wasn’t perfect planning, but we scheduled the trip last year for Bill’s birthday and had to secure the plane tickets well in advance so we could use my abundance of frequent flyer points. I literally preached in the morning before catching a plane that afternoon, and then spent all nine hours on the return flight working. While we were there, however, it was a wonderful respite.
This is a lesson we all need to learn. Because my life runs on so many tracks, it is a skill I have had to learn, though I must confess to failing many times to understand its importance. With the rapid pace of our lives, and with the multiple distractions provided by our webbed lives, we all need to practice being present.
This fall I am taking only a couple of Sundays off from preaching, but I am teaching at two seminaries, speaking at a dozen events or conferences, consulting with half a dozen churches, publishing a new book, and taking two international trips. It is incredibly difficult to be fully present at each of these events and to give those who are there my undivided attention. To do less is unfair to them, but it also is unfair to me.
I recently did a number of workshops and preached in a distant state. It would have been easy to feel overwhelmed and simply go from one event to the next, but, truthfully, in each setting, I found myself being moved, nurtured, and taught. My own life would have been so diminished had I not been present with those amazing people. They may never have known, but I would have gone away drained and diminished rather than enriched.
That is true about every moment of our lives. Even today at work, it will be tempting to think about what you will do this evening when you get off, what you will fix for dinner, who you will meet, what you have planned … but what about now? What about letting Facebook go and being present with where you are and what you are doing? You are a gift to this place and to this moment, and perhaps it can be a gift to you if you can be fully present and allow it to be.
Rev. Michael Piazza