From Inside Out
On Tuesday, I gave a retreat morning to some chaplains in another city. The focus of the morning was “Self care: Presence and Passion.” The focus of the morning was taking time to be in the present moment in order to be connected to one’s passion, one’s calling. We had barely begun the retreat, when a long distance telephone call came for me. It was a friend calling to tell me that a dear friend’s son was either dying or had died. The hospital had called early that morning asking for me.

I came back to the chaplains and told them briefly about the phone call. They asked, “Do you need to go?” I appreciated their question and yet I knew deep down, that I was exactly where I needed to be and so that is what I told them. The retreat morning continued with time to reflect on the pulls and gifts our inner landscapes, how do we make space for our passions and calls to take root, and finally how to allow God to breathe through our daily life to live the present moment.

Throughout the morning I kept thinking, “this is so unusual for me not to be working in my hospital…why did it have to happen when I’m not around…and then I would vacillate to the bigness of God and the gift it was for me to be practicing “Present moment living.”

This morning when I heard the gospel of Jesus being tempted by the devil, I could identify with my own inner struggle with being “the perfect chaplain.” On Tuesday, I so wanted to model being present and trusting in God’s ability to be God…without me being present to my friend and her family. At the same time, I wished that I could have been there for this family. It is so tempting to seek out being “a star…a model” and miss being present to the true call.

The evil one tempted Jesus with everything that was transitory…everything that had no permanence. Jesus having fasted drew on the truth that had brought him to that moment…the steadfast presence of God.

As I enter into this Lent, I am reminded today, that present moment is our best access to the bigness of God, whether it is in wrestling with our struggles with their own particular kind of seduction, or whether we are challenged by hunger for passing glories. The present moment gave Jesus the strength to be fed by God’s word; it gave him the wisdom to be guided not by the need for a demonstration of God’s magic but by God’s unseen presence. It gave Him the ability to turn to true worship and service of God and in doing so experience God’s graciousness. (Matthew 4: 1-11) We, too, are invited to journey this Lent one moment at a time. May we like Jesus journey into God’s strength, God’s unseen presence and God’s graciousness.