Learning to Be

One of the most difficult things in this culture is simply to be.  We are so focused on going, doing, fixing, buying, correcting, seeking, and pursuing.  I am guilty of this in so many ways.  There are days that seem to start with a rush, stay in a rush, and only end when I collapse into bed.  The ambition for a great prayer life is lost somewhere between getting the kids (and myself) ready for school  and putting the finishing touches on the project that I know is due tomorrow.  The desire for real change is desperate, but actualizing this is elusive.  The danger is, of course, too much introspection — something else I am guilty of on a regular basis.

But learning to "be" is a hard lesson.  It means that I learn to be where I am, how I am, and in the moment I am in.  It is that great lesson of contentment that St. Paul outlines in Philippians 4, "For I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content" (Phil 4:11).  We are taught not to be content and certainly not to simply "be".  Our culture drives us toward dissatisfaction:  "How can you drive that old car, don't you need this new one?"  "You can't be satisfied with last year's clothes can you?"  "Your spouse really doesn't measure up the way he/she used to."  "You don't look good enough"  "You aren't wealthy enough."  These messages and others come at us in a million different ways.  They encourage us not to "be" but to "get".   

But "being" matters.  We are what we are right now, in this moment.  And God is in this moment with me.  Through the incarnation He chooses to be where I am, with me as I am, exactly in this moment I am in.  But if I cannot "be" I will miss my Lord.  If I lose this moment in my hurried pace, I lose this moment and all its spiritual potential.  I lose the message, hope, and power of the incarnation.

 Sometimes it is good to just stop.  It is good to resist the culture that calls me to run at a blinding pace.  It is good to stop and be.  It is good to remember that God is right here, right now.  And whatever mood I am in, whatever pressures I face, whatever frustrations I have do not change God's presence with or love for me.

Where do we see this most clearly?  At Mass.  There God comes to us all again, to feed, renew, and strengthen.  Sometimes my attitude is lousy.  Sometimes I'm frustrated at the kids (sometimes they're frustrated at me).  Sometimes my wife and I are just exhausted from the week and we drag ourselves into the pew and pray for some peace.  And when we go forward and reach up for our Lord, He comes.  He comes and rests in our hands and enters us again, just as we are.  The challenge is learning to "be" in both daily life and on Sundays.  The challenge is learning to see each moment as filled with God's presence and with great potential.  I'm not there yet.  But the more we learn to be, the more we will "become" in Christ. 

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