The Present of Life


This morning on the way to church I listened to Jazz music. It has been a long time since I’ve listened to Jazz. It has a way of soothing the soul while at the same time, sparking an awakening of sorts.

Instead of a numbing feeling that many of the popular genres invoke, Jazz invited me to listen to its varying beats and recognize its harmony; one that penetrated my thoughts and connected me more fully with the world around me. Yes, there I was, in the Passat rental that my son picked up on Friday, listening to satellite radio and feeling my heart open up to the day ahead.

The Present of LifeThe feeling continued to grow as I entered what has become my church of choice. Stepping through the doors at St. Isaac Jogues on Chicasaw always brings a smile to my heart. Today is no exception. In the back of the church, the priests blessed the lay ministers who were about to assist with today’s celebration.

Standing to sing the opening hymn, I found myself deliberately placing my arms to my sides, no hands resting on the pew in front of me or folded at my center. I stood tall and open. Yes, I found this feeling awkward at first, but began to revel in my openness, my willingness to be vulnerable. I welcomed the day’s teachings.

Voices raised in the lyrical recitation of Psalm 23, “Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life,” the euphony pleasing to my heart. My tectonic plates began to shift, and while there was no severe quake that might be noticed by those near me, I felt something of significance.

The melody of these words massaged my soul to a state of peace. ‘Beyond my wants, beyond my fears,” are words that reminded me of the book I finished reading earlier this morning. Having enjoyed “The Alchemist,” written by the Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, I recently purchased his latest novel, “Adultery.” Without giving away the entire storyline, suffice it to say that the main character struggles with the staleness of marriage that turns monogamy into monotony. Several times during the story, she finds herself loving something that she initially despised.

This comparison led me to wonder how often we are unable to see an opportunity because we are blinded by our desires and fears. We can’t savor the joys of living because we have attuned our taste buds exclusively to what we script into our lives, our wants and our fears.

Just a few years ago, I’d been lost in the abyss of caring for others in the way a CoDependent knows to perfect. Striving to balance my tendency to focus my attention externally on others, I forced myself to learn what my desires and fears are. I made a script change for my personal storyline.

I’m happy to say that I no longer depend on any ‘other’ for my happiness. I learned how to raise my needs and desires to be on equal footing with those around me. While I admit that I may not yet have perfected this practice in my daily living, I have come a long way. As I sat in that pew, I wondered if I had come to the next crossroad in my life? Was it possibly time to set the script aside?

My thoughts turn back to the book by Coelho. I suspect that I am not alone in this dilemma. Have we gotten so caught up in attaining our wants and avoiding our fears that we have stopped living in the moment? Have our wants kept us looking toward the future and our fears anchored us in the past? Yes, our wants and fears have all but snuffed out any awareness of the present?

How many times have we said, “No, I don’t want that,” dismissing things because they were not listed on the spreadsheet that maps out life’s master plan?

Just this past week, I traded in my Mini Cooper, a vehicle that surprisingly made it into my lifetime list of top three cars. My husband suggested that I get a Jeep Wrangler instead. Living in the northeast, this is a very sensible plan. I wanted to pout like a petulant child, but being a mature adult, I handed over the keys to what I considered my link to frivolity and signed up for the Jeep Wrangler. Mind you, I had an old Wrangler and loved it. That wasn’t the point. I was giving up something I ‘loved’ before I was finished with it in order to attain something I hadn’t been asking for. This wrangler hadn’t yet made it to my ‘wants’ list.

While the Wrangler is a silly, unimportant example, it is easy for me to see this as something I can open up to loving. I will use this vehicle to transport me through the snowdrifts of life.

As I sit here now, I see the opportunity to move beyond my wants and my fears. I see the opportunity to engage the ‘love’ that exists beyond the limits created by my wants and fears! I see this as truly living! I can feel the passion for life heating up in my veins once again. I welcome the unfamiliarity and uncomfortableness of something new in my life, something not necessarily of my own choosing.

Leaving St. Isaac’s, I felt not only at peace, but also resuscitated with a renewed vigor to enjoy the gifts of a life present.

  1. Avatar of Daphne Shapiro
    Daphne Shapiro says

    I can relate to your story, Jo Anne,
    It is indeed interesting to see that when things happen that force you out of your comfort zone, they tend to teach us something new about ourselves. This can indeed give renewed vigor and enjoyment.

  2. Avatar of Jo Anne Mitchum
    Jo Anne Mitchum says

    Absolutely agree, Daphne! Thanks for reading. 🙂 jm

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