My best friend never texts me back immediately.
In fact, sometimes not at all.
And I’m not offended by it one bit because I kind of envy him. He has this practice of leaving his phone in his room when he’s home, at least until the kids are in bed and the house is quiet.
And when he’s at the office? It’s largely on silent mode.
He’s largely mastered the art of being present, mostly because he puts in some long hours on the regular.
I envy that because it’s a practice I have not mastered yet, even with my meditation discipline and my (feeble) attempts at focusing.
This week’s Gospel lesson (Mark 6:1-13) doesn’t look like it’s about being present at first blush, but I think it is, actually.
Jesus is present in his hometown, and the folks are so distracted by the fact that they have known him all his life, know his siblings, know his parents, that they can’t wrap their mind around his gifts and abilities. They aren’t present with his now, they only remember his was.
It reminds me of the time I met Molly Ringwald and was kindly asked not to inquire about any of her film career from the 1980’s (which I can list by heart in year of release). Instead, we were encouraged to ask what she’s up to now.
When Jesus sends his disciples out, he says to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave a place.” (vs 10) It was probably offered as simple lodging instructions because, well, when you don’t have a pillow and someone offers you one, you stay by that pillow until you’re ready to find a new one, right?
But today this verse speaks to my heart differently. I mean, what if we took seriously this idea that we need to stay in the place where we are? That is, when you’re visiting with someone, don’t put the phone on the table, but rather leave it in the car. Or on silent mode.
And when you enter your home at the end of the night, don’t lug that workbag in with you. You’re home, not at work.
Or if you, like me, mostly work from home, the office is off limits after 5:30.
I needed this verse a few weeks ago. On our family vacation I took three separate work calls, and I really shouldn’t have.
I knew I shouldn’t have, and my family predicted I would take them (because they know me much like Jesus’ neighbors thought they “knew” him), and I had the opportunity to prove them wrong and I blew it.
Totally blew it.
But, and here’s the thing: it’s not just about “being present” to be respectful. What if there are insights and spiritual awakenings that are missed out because we’re missing out on the moment?
Like, what if beautiful and wonderful, miraculous even, things are happening in our midst, like they had the potential to when Jesus was in his hometown, but we’re not aware enough to see them?
By staying present our present can change, by God, and even become disconnected from our past…if only we’d stay where we are until we leave there.
Anyway, that’s where I’d go if I were preaching this week.