Being Fully Present In A Distracted World
One of the most difficult things to do in this age of virtual meetings, gatherings, events, and classes is to be fully present... to be completely given over to the moment without distractions or anything to divide your attention.
Listen, I understand this more than most people. All the many ways I used to meet with people are now done through Zoom, FaceTime, or just straight-up old-school phone calls.
There's a HUGE temptation when you are on virtual meetings to take advantage of the multi-tasking features of the device you are using for the meeting to check your email, scroll through social media, and maybe post a few things, too.
Instagram Post: ** posts yawning selfie** LOL, I'm in this super-boring meeting with the pastor, and I can't wait until it's over!! 😜
Or you can get bold and shop online while the meeting is happening, looking for that perfect little accessory to make your new shoes absolutely pop with your outfit.
Perhaps you got hungry while at the meeting, and so you decided to peruse your lunch options to have a tasty meal delivered as soon as the meeting comes to a close.
There's also a temptation to work on other things while the meeting is underway, which seems like a really good use of your time at the moment, but raises the level of difficulty when it comes to being able to recall anything that happened at the meeting.
Before you start posing questions to yourself at this point like, "How does Leon know all of these things?" Let me just say this...
I can neither confirm nor deny whether I have actually done any of the aforementioned things over the past year of being forced to meet virtually.
Hey, let he or she who is without sin in this cast the first stone... that's all I'm saying.
We can laugh about this, and it's good to do so. We need to find ways to laugh in the midst of all of the tension that we seem to be facing every single day lately.
But the fact is that we all have either experienced this either by witnessing someone who is checked out on a virtual meeting, or we have been the one checking out.
Here's the thing about all of this, though... It's become more and more difficult to be fully present in the present.
And the truth is, we know that we are not fully present when we're not fully present. We give just enough of our attention and energy so that we don't seem like a complete jerk, but in reality, we're often far away, divided, scattered.
What if we were able to be fully present in all of our moments, though? What if we were able to give our full attention to others, despite the temptations? What would that be like?
Fr. Richard Rohr once wrote:
When all of you is there, you will know. When all of you is present, the banquet will begin.
I love that last bit... "When all of you is present, the banquet will begin." It's like Fr. Richard is saying, "The party can't really start until you get there."
I get that not every meeting or moment right now feels like a party.
There are things that we must all do that we don't really want to do... There are people that we struggle to be in a relationship with but have to try...
On top of all that, anxiety, worry, isolation, boredom, depression, and uncertainty will do their best to keep you from being fully present, fully you at the moment.
But when you resist the temptation to check out, you will discover new things about yourself and your capacity to receive and give your love and energy in life-giving ways.
You will discover unexpected parties in places and spaces where no party ought to be underway.
May it be so for you today and every day and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.