For the past two years the Lord has given me the mission of teaching the beauty of the present moment to children. Each week I have the honor of gathering on a carpet with groups of 2nd graders to teach them mindfulness. During our time together, we use our senses to chronicle the gifts we have been given through our bodies, nature, and each other. We practice slowing down, pausing, appreciating, and just…being.
While the mindfulness classes that I currently teach are secularized, my training and personal practice in mindfulness has truly bolstered my spiritual life and relationship with the Lord. When I give myself permission to pause throughout the day, to breathe, to savor a refreshing glass of water, or to truly engage with my son or coworker, I am simply practicing awareness of the present moment. But when I invite Christ with me, then I am as Brother Lawrence suggests, a Christian enveloped in the “sacrament of the present moment.” For it is the Lord who provides the present moment, the breath in my body, and the water that nourishes me. It is He who is present in others.
A friend recently reminded of the beautiful Prayer of St. Padre Pio After Communion. The first line reminded me of how often I struggle to live in the present moment with our Lord:
“Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You.”
How often and easily I abandon Him! My mind is constantly lurching forward to the future, the never-ending list of priorities, worries, thoughts, emotions, and preoccupations. These temptations are so strong and overwhelming that I often forget who is in charge! In 2nd grade we call these distractions ‘mind bubbles.’ But as I practice training my mind and body to live presently in the now and put on the mind of Christ, I am drawing closer to He who is Peace residing within me. I begin to more easily and habitually abandon myself to him, my anchor in the midst of a mind bubble blizzard.as I train my mind and body to live presently in the now and put on the mind of Christ, I draw closer to He who is Peace residing within me. Click To Tweet
The truth is that He never leaves us. It is we who abandon Him. His nature is Love, unyielding and unchanging. He does not simply wait beside us. He resides within us, experiencing every sensation, emotion, thought, joy, suffering, and sin that we experience. His love offers us compassion and peace no matter how far we’ve wandered (or wondered) away. This is the “unfathomable” Mercy of God described by St. Faustina. It is Christ who by His sacrifice and pierced heart on the cross tore open the veil between us and infinite, ever-present love, mercy, and peace.
Before Christ, the role of the High Priest served as a mediator between the people and God. Once a year on the Day of Atonement, only the High Priest would enter into God’s presence with a sacrifice to atone for the sins of the people.
Every time I go to Adoration, I am always reminded of a story by St. John Vianney who once asked a parishioner what they did for all those hours sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The parishioner responded:
“I look at Him, and He looks at me.”
Present. Simple. Yet terribly difficult to achieve for the “everyman”.
Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. – Hebrews 6:17-20
I teach my students a mindfulness practice called anchor breaths. We imagine life is like a little boat out at sea. Some days are sunny and calm, others stormy and tumultuous. We wobble on the floor, our bodies wild and frenzied. But there’s hope! We have our breath! Our breath is like an anchor and it is always with us. We drop our anchors, place our hands on our bellies and focus on our breath as it regulates our nervous system and stills our little boats.
As Christians, we also have the steadfast hope of an anchor! Jesus purchased and pierced the veil for us, creating a living stream of life straight to heaven! He restored our relationship with God, providing us the confidence to continually approach the sacrament of the present moment where we are met with peace and mercy. When I drop my anchor with my students, my focus on my breath becomes a prayer of gratitude to Him and a loving awareness of His presence and peace within me. This is His greatest desire for you, me and all of His children. Abandonment to His peace and love.
Copyright 2019, Kate Huhn