As I sat in my armchair, with rain lightly falling outside, and my pastor’s face streaming on my laptop, I was captured by the cooing of a dove outside of my window this Palm Sunday morning. The presence of doves near my apartment is increasing now that we have been in quarantine. I saw one the other day, and tried to take a picture of it, but it skittishly kept hiding, and eventually it flew away. It was a good reminder for me to just be present in the moment, to fully appreciate the beauty right in front of me, because too quickly it may be gone.
It reminded me of other times that I have tried to hold on too tightly to good things that come into my life. Wanting to control and consume, rather than holding loosely and valuing. Have you ever felt this way? Maybe it’s a deep connection with a friend or partner who you never want to feel disconnected from, or a child you wish could stay young forever? We often want to capture these precious moments, wishing they could always be ours.
This reminds me of Jesus’ Transfiguration, when Peter, James, and John are up on a high mountain with Jesus, and Jesus is suddenly surrounded by bright light and accompanied by Elijah and Moses. Peter suddenly wants to hold onto this moment. He suggests that they put up tents and create a space for them to dwell there for a while. Peter’s intentions were likely good, and how can we blame him for wanting this holy communion to continue? But I wonder if, in his urge to “do,” he was missing just “be”-ing in this sacred moment.
In contrast, when we look at Mary, the mother of Jesus, I think we see a different picture. After Jesus’ birth and the visits from the angels and the shepherds, the gospel of Luke tells us that Mary “pondered all of these things in her heart.” It seemed like Mary knew that all of these wonderful things she just witnessed were going to end. She wisely was present to them, holding what she could of them in her heart.
I believe that is the invitation for us when we think of spiritual formation: to be with God. To open to the Holy Spirit’s dwelling within us. Even our Christian activities, though good, are actions that we could still do apart from the Spirit of God. It takes practice to stay present to God in the moments of our day because even in our busy activities, we still may miss the holy moment that we are invited to experience — the quiet moment deep in our hearts, where the Holy Spirit already dwells. But “being” often goes against human nature, and it definitely goes against the cultural narrative. We often find our worth in what we are doing and the roles that we play. To simply be may seem like a waste. But our “being” is where God dwells. It is here that we connect to the One who tells us our true value. It is in the heart, our inner sanctuary, where we find commune with the Eternal One.
Today I invite you to sit with God and ponder the following questions:
- What comes up for you as you think about “doing” versus “being”?
- What are the things that you “do” that tend to lead you to feeling valuable or worthy?
- What might it mean for you to “be” with God today or in this season?
- What might God be telling you today about your worth?
As you close your time, I invite you to share with the Lord anything else that is coming up for you. Then quietly sit with the Lord, noticing what it feels like to be you today: your body in the chair you are sitting in, what you can hear, what you can see, what you can taste. Experience what it is like to simply be with God today.