Learning to Embrace the Moments in our Lives

By: Rev. Susan Smith

There is something powerful in stopping to inhale the presence of God in all things. God provides the “beauty of holiness” to us, free of charge. All we need do is wake up and see, hear and internalize what God has put in place for us. Author Alice Walker’s observation in her book, The Color Purple has always been profoundly powerful for me: “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”

There is so much we do not notice; there are so many moments we minimize or ignore, trying to get to the next thing, the next place, the next level of life.

Abraham Heschel said that the “self is always in danger of being submerged in anonymity, of becoming a thing.” How many of us are “things,” not even close to being who God made us to be? How many of us miss the essence of who we are, the reason why God put us here, because we have gotten caught up in a mad rush to “be someone,” not grateful to be the “someone” God created us to be?  How many of us have lost precious “Sabbath moments,” moments of quiet and stillness in which we could have identified and touched upon and into our very souls in ways that would have given us new life, new breath and even a new direction?

Heschel suggests that we do not celebrate  our “moments” enough …and he says, “what was shall not be again.”

It may seem trivial to important people, or common people, to wealthy people or poor people, to popular and sought-after people, and to people whom few people know, to stop and embrace the little things that God has put in this world for all of us. To see God all around us does not require an expensive; there is no “best seat” to desire in order to see God. If we are able to take Sabbath moments, stopping and looking for God’s glory, no matter who we are, we are giving ourselves a blessing which is spiritually calming. We remain in a frenzy too often because we never stop! God stands in our midst, bidding us to look at what is in front of us, what we have as opposed to what we do not have. God blows the breath of Her spirit toward us so that perhaps we can and will feel the soft breeze that has the power to make us pause. We will not do it; we will not stop, we will not pause, and so we miss moments that are life-giving.

I was once doing an early morning run in a park. I had been concentrating on increasing my time and really hadn’t paid much attention to what was around me – until one day. I had been running on the path in the park I had always run on and came to a familiar clearing. Normally, coming to that clearing was a blessing because I knew the 5-mile run was nearly over, but on this day, a morning so early that the dew was still visible on the grass and leaves, there was a huge animal standing in that clearing.

I don’t know if it was a moose or an elk or some other creature. All I knew is that it was big. It had big antlers and it was standing there, close to the path, staring at me.

I stopped, scared to death. It seemed like it was looking into my soul; I though it was trying to decide how to attack me. Tears started rolling down my cheeks because I was terrified. I dared not move – and it didn’t either. Finally, I just started whispering, “God, come, God come.” It was not a big prayer – but something happened in that moment that made me embrace what was happening. It seemed as though that animal kind of leaned its head to the side; it seemed as though that animal was sympathetic and understood how afraid I was. It looked at me with that sideways head for a few moments, took a step toward me …and then turned and walked away.

It was a Sabbath moment. I was forced to be still and know that God was God. In that moment, I saw the animal as a creature made by God. In that moment, I actually noticed the rhythm of his chewing, the color of his eyes, and I noticed that his fur was matted on an area on his right side.

I treasure that moment. I treasure how scared I was, I treasure how I had to whisper out loud to God, and I treasure what God allowed me to see. Be clear: I was still afraid. I didn’t move until that big animal had moved far away from me. My legs felt like jello even after I got the nerve to move again, walking first and then running. But something had happened. A Sabbath moment was forced on me, and after the moment was gone, I knew God had poured something into me that was not there before.

What was shall not be again.”

God, help us to see and appreciate the moments in our lives that You give us. Help us to see purple, to hear the music of creation, to experience the power of the moments You put in our lives…just for us.

Amen and amen.

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