I had a dream last night that we were leaving on a trip, a retreat of some kind in a remote part of the woods somewhere. We were half way there having already spent some time in the car when I realized that I had forgotten to pack shoes. My feet were in their typical flimsy flip-flops, hardly conducive for tromping through the woods. Already late for meeting the shuttle that would take us to the woods, I rushed with my three kids, to find a shoe store so I could buy some sneakers.
Awaking before I could buy shoes or make it to the shuttle in time, the feeling of unprepared panic and hurry still lingers in my spirit as I write this.
So often I feel like I’m that duck that is calmly floating above the water while underneath its feet are paddling ferociously to stay afloat. At least I hope I appear calm. It’s likely that I’m not fooling anybody.
My brain is a tangled mess of check-lists and to-dos.
The majority of it is inevitable, due to the stage of life I am in. I know many other young mothers who are in the same boat. In this boat we strain at the oars and travel against the wind. We must hold it all together because if we forget one thing, it will all fall apart.
Or so we think.
Motherhood has a tendency to turn even the most laid- back personality into a control freak.
Recently I had the glorious opportunity to escape the day to day monotony and fly to New York City to spent time with two of my oldest and dearest friends. For an entire weekend we took in the sights and tastes. We laughed until our sides hurt. We ate and ate and ate and walked and walked. Our minds and hearts were wholly in the beautiful present.
Coming home, I came to the stark realization how little of my time I spend living in the moment. I’m constantly thinking of and preparing for the next thing. Our life right now is on fast forward. We are always rushing to the next activity, checking off obligations and commitments.
Although it is mostly good things that we have integrated into our rhythm, it often leaves me living with this persistent, nagging feeling that I am late and without shoes.
On another recent trip, this time as a whole family, I stood in a quiet closet with my littlest working to get her to sleep. She was oh so tired, but refused to settle unless I stood near the unfamiliar bed. As soon as I would move away to where I wasn’t visible the crying would start again. I didn’t even need to be holding her or touching her, it was only my presence that she needed in that moment to be soothed enough for sleep to take hold.
It turns out, my presence matters.
When I’m not micromanaging the rat race that is my current life, I often visit the numb brain space, where I scroll my phone. Too often lately I catch my children’s pleading gaze as I look up from my phone. I don’t even realize I’m doing it half the time. Their gaze has become accustomed to their mother’s face being lit up in blue light. Vacant. Not present. Maybe with confession, I can break free somewhat of this technological orbit that I seem to get caught in so easily.
I also often find my mind drifting from the present to the past. I remember past seasons and the way things used to be. I am hopelessly nostalgic. I reminisce. I romanticize. I regret.
There’s probably a good chance that the most vivid memories that I carry are also the times in my life when I have been entirely present. Submerged in the moment. Saturated in living.
I remember before getting married, someone, although I’ve forgotten who, gave me the advice to be intentional about taking in a memory of my wedding day. They said that during the ceremony take a second to look out at the crowd of people that have gathered and really take in the moment. I forgot to un-bustle half of the train of my dress, yet somehow, I remembered to take their advice.
In my mind today, I carry a visual of the full pews basked in yellow light. My young husband’s hand in mine. My Dad fidgeting with his glasses. The candles. The flowers. The sacredness of the promises and presence of the Most-High. The rest of the day is a blur now, but I have that moment tucked away in my heart. For that handful of seconds, I was fully present.
Presence is what takes something from mundane to significant. From numb to fully felt. From brushed over, to grasped.
It isn’t often these days that I fall into the present without trying. Soon though, the present will be in the past, and I will wish that I had more of my todays on a crystal- clear mental reel.
This is my effort to be more present. To bring a few memories into sharp focus.
Because my today is so beautiful. I don’t want to forget.
The way my middle girl doesn’t know her left from right when she sets the table.
The fat, dangling feet of my littlest in my eldest’s lanky arms.
The color of twilight through our front windows.
Deep laughter over mispronounced words and Lincoln log teeter- totters.
How perfectly my lips fit on the bridge of each of their noses.
The whisper in my spirit from the one who never leaves, nudging me back to the present from my unblinking.
Illuminating the present with His presence. The colors are so vivid.
Who cares if I’m shoeless? Even these sticky floors are made holy by Presence.
This is me being present.