One of the traits I always have admired is the ability to be totally present in the here and now. This trait has become even more important in this digital age when everyone, young and old alike, seems glued to handheld devices—phones, watches, tablets—you name it. We are losing the facility of listening undividedly, which is one way of showing that we care about another.
My grandmother had that facility. Sadly, she died when I was only 15, but I treasure all those days on her front porch and in her kitchen. I loved being with her, playing or doing chores, and seeing her earnest attention to her family, friends, and her chores.
Even if today’s handheld devices had been available to her, I think she would have maintained her attention to others without fail, because she had so much compassion and empathy. Don’t get me wrong! She was a good disciplinarian, but also a very caring one.
I think she derived much of her capacity for listening and being present from her attention to her spiritual life. From reading her Bible, to praying, to singing hymns, to cooking for others in times of need, my grandmother modeled love of God and of others.
I have been fortunate to know a few other people like her in my life. They put aside what they’re doing, focus on the person who is present with them, and give that person their full attention. They model the same traits that my grandmother did so many years ago.
I am convinced that this gift is worth reviving in all of us. Using my grandmother as my inspiration, I am working on being present for God in times of devotion, prayer, and meditation, and being present for others when I am with them. The only way I know to do this is to remove the external distractions and to focus. I truly believe that many of today’s misunderstandings, failures of communication, and culture wars would at least be helped, if not remedied, by all of us being present for others.
I am trying to do just that. While I know it will take continual practice, it is very worth the time and energy. I pray we all will do this so that we may engage on deeper levels. And I pray to be as successful as my grandmother was.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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