presence

I got lost again. Somehow, the entire month of February and the first week of March went by and I didn’t seem to notice. It’s my most frustrating habit: getting lost, losing time, struggling to remain present.

My mind always feels to be running at least ten steps ahead. Entire days pass before I stop to ask, “What am I feeling?” I have recently been learning more about embodied living and I have been curious: what is my body holding onto that I have not recognized?

I always feel as a thing to be untangled, my over-active and analytical mind constantly forming and solving existisitential puzzles, often terrified and ashamed of what I find lingering in darkened corners. I ignore these things and pinball my way around my own psyche and I get nowhere.

Settling down, quieting, leaning in, getting curious – it feels strange to me. Reconnecting with my own body and deepest emotional wants and needs and fears feels as an unfair luxury; a scary and unnatural thing.

Perhaps I am afraid that once I sit down to breathe, I shall never get back up again. Once I find that ease, that comfort that comes to my bones when I finally stop thinking and just… exist, I shall never make another life decision.

And what does this tell me about what I believe about myself? Lazy, unmotivated thing. And what of God? Unmoving, uninspiring.

As I learn more of embodied living, of meditation, of showing up fully, I see that it takes a special kind of courage to be here now. It takes courage to release the illusion of control and sink deeply back into that warm, cloud-like expanse of trust. It takes courage and faith to live as Jesus described in Matthew 6 (look at the birds – are you not worth more than they?)

And, oh goodness, I am a frail and often distrusting one. I feel as Bilbo Baggins at the first invitation of adventure; of Doubting Thomas at the first glimpse of the resurrected Christ. Bravery often feels forced and foreign, incongruent with my cautious and “level-headed” nature, and staying home drinking tea and reading books seems much more pleasant.

I meditate on 2 Peter 1:3: everything we could ever need for life and godliness has already been deposited in us by his divine power. For all this was lavished upon us through the rich experience of knowing him who has called us by name and invited us to come to him through a glorious manifestation of his goodness.

Reflected in this verse is the beautiful cycle of deepening. I am invited into stillness, into presence, to pause and to notice my own life, the space I take up within it, the inhabitation of the Divine life, and upon the acceptance of this invitation, I realize I already have the courage and faith and trust I need to continue the acceptance. The more I know him, the more I know myself.

Perhaps I am more like Bilbo and Thomas (is it sacrilegious to bring into one space a fictional character and a disciple of Christ?). But, as shown in The Hobbit, does Bilbo not learn? Through peril and trial, does he not see he is more brave, more equipped than what he once thought?

And what of Doubting Thomas in John 20? Did Jesus rebuke him? Or did he hold out his palms, draw back the layers of his tunic to reveal where he had been gouged, and say, “Touch and see”? An intimate invitation; the pressing of fingertips to flesh.

What is it I fear I will find in my moments of stillness? I am beginning to see that what whatever lay pooled under the surface of my skin, whatever lay unexamined in the corners of my mind, is nothing to fear.

For if in being present I see my lack, I will only learn more of his provision.

If in being present I see my wounds, I will only learn more of his healing.

If in being present I see my fear, I will only learn more of his love.

If in being present I see my doubt, I will only learn more of his invitation:

Touch and see.

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