If you’re anything like me, you’re a time traveler.
Not a literal time traveler (sorry to disappoint!), but a time traveler in our brains. We are almost always thinking about the past or the future.
Which means… we are almost never thinking about or focusing on the present.
For example, when I’m taking a walk, I’m rarely just focusing on what’s around me in that moment. I notice things enough to make sure I don’t get hurt– but I rarely focus on feeling the breeze, or smelling the coming storm, or seeing the funky sign on the shop door.
Or another example– when I get ready in the morning, I almost never pay attention to the sensations of washing my face, eating my breakfast, brushing my teeth. I’m always more focused on what is planned for the day ahead, or what happened the day before.
Because we are frequently time traveling in our thoughts, we are missing out on experiencing the present moment– and God’s presence in that moment.
You may have heard the word mindfulness before in conjunction with meditation, or yoga, or other similar practices.
But mindfulness isn’t just for folks who do yoga and practice meditation– it’s a way for all of us to just focus on our current moment without worrying about the past or future.
For Christian minimalists, mindfulness means simply appreciating the present moment and experiencing God’s presence in the present.
Consumer society benefits off of us NOT focusing on the present because it means that we are always looking at what we have consumed/bought and what we are going to consume/buy. Being aware and focused on the present means breaking that consumer-driven cycle to just be.
Being with our loved ones. Being with ourselves. Being with God.
Because when we are in the present moment, amazing things can happen. We get to know our loved ones. We get to know ourselves. And we get to know God– experience God’s presence, listen for God’s voice, see God’s actions, notice God’s leading in our lives.
We miss out on all of that when we are not fully in the present moment.
God’s Peace and Presence
When we are totally in the present, we often feel more peaceful. Living in the past or future, most of the time, can feel worrisome or chaotic. But when we let ourselves just be, for this moment, we are better able to tap into God’s peace.
[Jesus said:] Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.John 14:27
Our world does not give us peace– Jesus does. And when we are present in the now, we experience that peace.
There are many Christian spiritual practices that promote mindfulness and tapping into Jesus’ peace in the present. One of my favorites is centering prayer. This is a particular prayer practice that brings us into the present moment and fosters experiencing God’s peace and presence. You can also do a similar prayer practice by focusing on your breathing while praying.
Simplicity in the Present
If this type of prayer sounds simple, that’s because it is. It is its simplicity that helps us to be in the present and to be mindful of God’s presence. And as those of us who practice Christian minimalism know– it is simplicity that helps us to focus on what matters most.
Before worship, prayer, study, and other parts of the day, the Christian Brothers start by bringing themselves to the present by saying: “Let us be mindful of the presence of God.” In that simple statement and act, they bring themselves back to now, and to God.
What are human beings that you are mindful of them, or mortals, that you care for them?Hebrews 2:6, quoting Psalm 8:4
Since God is mindful of us, how is God inviting us to be more mindful of God in the present moment?