Offering Our Awareness, Participation and Willingness
by Mark Votava
When I was in my 20’s, life was very lonely and difficult at times. I tried to find a sense of connection with others, but it just didn’t happen that much. As churches I attended promised community, in everyday life I could not find anyone around to mentor or encourage me. I felt God was real to me, but the church was not capable to provide for my needs around friendship, community or spiritual formation in everyday life.
- Being present to others out of love
We never know what will happen as we are faithfully present. Jesus is teaching that the way to be present to him is to be present to others out of love. We will miss out on all kind of wisdom and relational revelations in the parish if we are not present to others.
- Wisdom is the freedom to be present
Richard Rohr states in one of my favorite books The Naked Now, “Wisdom is not the gathering of more facts and information, as if that would eventually coalesce into truth. Wisdom is precisely a different way of seeing and knowing those ten thousand things. I suggest that wisdom is precisely the freedom to be present. Wise people always know how to be present, but it is much more then that. Presence is wisdom! People who are fully present know how to see fully, rightfully, and truthfully. Presence is the one thing necessary, and in many ways, the hardest thing of all. Just try to keep your heart open, your mind without division or resistance, and your body not somewhere else. Presence is the practical, daily task of all mature religion and all spiritual disciplines.”
- Giving and receiving right now
Rohr says elsewhere, “Let me describe the effect of presence in this way. The mystery of presence is that encounter wherein the self-disclosure of one evokes a deeper life in the other. There is nothing you need to ‘think’ or understand to be present; it is all about giving and receiving right now, and it is not done in the mind. It is actually a transference and sharing of Being …”
- Faithful presence can be a harsh and dreadful love
Presence has been a hard lesson for me to learn even though I have lived in the same place, locality and neighborhood for a number of years now. The love that is demanded in order to be faithfully present to others in everyday life can be harsh and dreadful. It requires a sharing of my very being with someone.
- This is how we love and are shaped
But this is how we love. And this is how we are shaped. This is how we experience the gospel in everyday life. We cannot love without being present.
- Being attentive to what is happening here and now
“True presence,” states Gunilla Norris, “requires that we be attentive to what is happening here and now. It is an offering of our awareness, our participation, and our willingness.
How can we cultivate a faithful presence in every life together?