Today’s Bible reading

But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” — Genesis 3:9

More thoughts for meditation

Max Picard, a Swiss philosopher who lived in the beginning half of the 20th century, described Western society as a people and culture in flight from God. The flight has always been a part of human history. But, in the past, if someone wanted to flee from God they had to do it with great intention. They had to overcome the inertia of their society. In other words, they had to become apostate. Today, the flight is waiting for us the moment we are born. So, instead, the act of faith requires great effort. There are forces constantly at work pulling on us and dislocating us; to be still requires a specific act of the will.

Being constantly in flight takes its toll on the human spirit. We are awash in half-hearted possibilities and suggestions. Ideas have nothing to do with what is real; they only are useful for getting us somewhere. Our minds constantly pull us away from the simple and plain reality that is directly in front of us. We do one thing, but think about all the other things that we could/should be doing instead. Very little invites us to slow down, to ponder, to consider what is rather than what could be. It is hard to trust that a plain, simple, and small life could be worth living.

Picard, though, also wrote of the Pursuer. We flee, but God flies all the swifter after us.

Such is the nature of this pursuer that He fills all the corners of the world. There is nowhere that His presence is not, because He is Reality Itself. He is the still thing, in whose presence all flights eventually become homeward bound journeys — as though a planet which spun off into orbit is only describing another orbit which eventually draws it back to the sun.

As long as we exist, as long as we have some ounce of breath still in us, there is something in us which remembers our connection to God and yearns to be found by Him. No matter how far away we go, we still belong to our home. It is hard out here in the lonely reaches of space. There are so many reasons to run away, so many people who have let us down, so many things about our life that do not make sense. God constantly offers the invitation to come out of hiding, to stop fleeing and to rest in Him.

Suggestions for action

Consider some of Thomas Hopko’s suggestions for living the Christian life:

  • face reality
  • be awake and attentive, fully present where you are
  • live a day, even a part of a day, at a time
  • be an ordinary person, one of the human race
  • be totally honest, first of all with yourself

These suggestions all point to the need to simply be present. The present is where we are. There is no other place we can be. It is the place where we meet reality. It is also the place where God meets us.

What have you learned about being present? Is there anything that you’ve learned, say a discipline of meditation of prayer, that you’ve forgotten about or let fall to disuse? Or maybe even a regular activity, like exercise or listening to music, that helps you to be present? It is different for everyone, which is why its helpful to start with what you already know. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. If you are interested in learning an easy prayer discipline that is about being present, there is a group that meets for centering prayer every other Saturday morning at 2007 Frankford Ave.