The most important hour is always the present. The most significant person is precisely the one sitting across from you right now.Meister Eckhart
For the past two years, my word that I focused on was PRESENT. The interest in this word was born out of a desire I had (and frankly a huge weakness of mine) to be present with the people in front of me and not be distracted with other things. I often find that when I’m with other people I am distracted by many other thoughts (what I’m doing, what I need to be doing, future plans, PHONE!, etc.) So, while I’m physically present with someone, I’m not mentally or emotionally available to them. This often results in half hearing what people are saying, half responding to them, and most likely leaving them feeling unimportant… all for me to hurry on to whatever else in my day that I think is more important.
Can you relate with me?
Here’s what I learned from focusing on being present these past two years:
1. It takes work
Being present in the moment is a discipline. It takes effort and practice. It takes the intentionality of putting away the phone or other distractions, looking people in the eyes, and actively engaging with them. Meister Eckhart said,
“The most important hour is always the present. The most significant person is precisely the one sitting across from you right now.
This quote can be paraphrased to mean the most important hour is the one you’re in, and the most important person is the one you’re with.
(HELLO MOMS WITH TODDLERS WHO ARE TEMPTED TO BE ON PHONE RATHER THAN ENGAGING, AKA- ME!)
What he said sounds so common sense, but far too often this elementary idea is abandoned. If we do take this perspective, however, it means we are giving our full self (all of our energy, concentration, creativity, expressions, etc.) to the person/people we are with for however long we’re with them. It means other things will have to wait because we can’t be in two places at once. It doesn’t mean other things or people aren’t important- of course they are!- but rather the current moment can’t be (nor should be) ignored or rushed through.
But friends, the reality of keeping this perspective and taking this action of a present self is HARD! This is why I have been practicing for two years, and this is why I am preaching to myself here more than anyone else. And I still get distracted ALL the time- my husband can attest to this!
2. It is rewarding
Giving the people you’re with your full attention is actually life-giving, not only to the person/people you’re with, but to you too! It will fill you up and energize you. When you’re giving someone your undivided attention, you are also slowing down and quieting your mind to everything else. In this way you are giving yourself a break. When your mind is constantly distracted or moving on to the next thing, you are exhausted, but slowing down and being in the moment (wherever that is) is restful and therefore very rewarding.
3. It is biblical
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
God commands us to look to the interests of others. This means we are to keep their best interest in mind. What is a person’s best interest? Ultimately it is the state of their soul- whether they have a relationship with God. So how are we to look to the interests of others? We can only diligently do so if we are present with them, getting to know them, engaging with them, and giving them our full attention.
We can look to the example of Jesus. He modeled availability to others while he was here on the earth. He spent time in people’s homes with them and He gave people who others considered outcasts his availability and attention (Zacchaeus- Luke 19, the sinful woman- Luke 7:36-50, children- Matthew 19). In his words and actions, He showed that He was concerned about people’s souls more than anything else. And though we can’t see him, God is always present with us today as well. He’s not too busy or concerned with other matters more important. He’s always available to us. Therefore, being present in the moment is an act of obedience to God.