Today’s scripture readings lend themselves to an awareness of TIME.
For people in a society always on the go, perhaps this 40 days of focus also allows us to be present right now. Mostly, our days are framed by business to do, plans to implement, goals to achieve. This season offers us a chance to be more present to ourselves, others, and God.
As the writer says, there is “A time for every season and purpose under heaven.” This doesn’t mean we should dismiss our capacity to remember and to anticipate. Culturally, we’re often good at these skills. And we need these competencies. We need the long view, the big dream, as well as the short-term to-do list. And we need to remember our history. We can plan and prepare. We can remember and learn.
Too often, though, by planning and preparing, by recalling and reminiscing, we may miss the chance to savor our current surroundings, relationships, and experiences. Being present to the more immediate moment is a different experience, and also essential to our wellbeing. What does it mean to be aware of and present to ourselves, other people, our world and our God, right now? Part of the value of time set apart, such as Lent, is to be aware of this hour and this day.
For instance, you can follow your breath in and out, in and out. Use your five senses to ground yourself in here and now (this is particularly helpful if you are distressed, anxious or distracted and need to calm and center yourself). Count backwards using your senses, as below:
- 5 Things I See: “What can I see all around me?” Study your surroundings, and name five things you see. Consider their colors, textures, and details.
- 4 Things I Hear: “What can I hear?” Name four things you hear. How close or distant are the sounds? From what direction do they come? Loud or soft? Familiar or unidentified?
- 3 Things I Feel: “What am I feeling?” Name three things you feel bodily, by paying attention to inward and outward sensations, such as the touch of something on your skin, or the relaxation or pull of your body’s muscles.
- 2 Things I Smell: “What can I smell?” Name two things you can smell (or whose odors you like). Scents trigger our minds with memory and evoke moods. Name four odors.
- 1 Thing I Taste (Breathe): “What do I taste?” Name one residual flavor in your mouth. Breathe across your tongue and activate that sense. Then draw in a long, slow, deep breath. And exhale. Repeat the breath.
Excerpts from today’s lectionary:
- Psalm 91:15-16 — When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. 16 With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.
- Ecclesiatses 3: 1 — For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
- John 12:27 — “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.
- John 12: 36 — While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”