I have been reading a book that has challenged me to consider how to be very present to what is, or “consent” to be where I am. I will admit that the last few months have not been the easiest of times to venture into such a practice. It is a season of big transition: Dion living in Long Term Care, Cate leaving the nest, me discovering how to live alone. Then there is the general fatigue of Covid and the specific burden it is at The Dale: on both the staff team and the community. Add to all of this multiple deaths and limited ways to corporately grieve, systemic injustice, the list goes on. I even started to notice stress coming out in arguably small, but noticeable ways, including a sty in my eye and a kneecap that was moving around in ways it should not.

I am discovering that these less than ideal conditions (and let’s be honest, are they ever ideal?) are a very good reason to slow down and really notice what is going on both internally and externally. For example, what am I feeling? What do I need? What things might be necessary to root out of my heart? What are my hands busy doing- is it good or not? Together with my counsellor, I have been addressing these and many other questions.

We are now in the time of Advent, a word that means “a coming into place, view, or being; arrival”. For Christians, this is a period of preparation before Christmas and the arrival of Jesus. This year I am especially aware of how God is right in the place where I find myself: in the middle of the pain, the loneliness, the grief, and the stress. There is not an absence of God in the hardest of things. While I don’t always understand this, I do know it to be my experience.

By noticing and not ignoring the big things going on in and around me, I am re-discovering the joy found in being fully invested in a conversation with a person, cooking something, doing dishes, choosing a Christmas tree with Dion and Cate, creating home, making music, advocating, and remembering. It’s as though being present to where I am helps me experience the sacredness of living, in all of its complexity. It helps me to do what I can and know what I cannot. It propels me to rest. It rejuvenates my work.

None of this is easy. I have cried buckets of tears. Some days I am exhausted and would be content to hide under the covers. The transition that we face as a family is settling, but still strange and hard. The effects of the pandemic, injustice and grief are real. And yet. And yet, there is a coming into view, a sense that light is penetrating the darkness. I am (we are) being asked to walk this road and fortunately, when I pay attention to the terrain, I am confident that I am (we are) not alone.

3 thoughts on “Present to What Is

  1. I just heard the Tenors. Sing,,,You will not walk alone. Walk on, walk on and you will never walk alone… how beautiful,,,,just the thought ,,, So comforting. Trust that this will be your song!!! Love you my dear,,, Grandma Jean Ireland. ❤️❤️❤️

    Sent from my iPad

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  2. Hi Erinn, I hear you. And I so agree that even in the midst of the circumstances that most rattle us, Jesus is there, accompanying us.
    I recently discovered Celtic Daily Prayer Book One. In the Daily meditations section, the Day 24 meditation has meant so much to me.In case you don’t already have the book I wanted to share it with you:

    Saviour and friend,
    how wonderful art Thou!
    my companion upon the changeful way,
    the comforter of its weariness,
    my guide to the eternal town,
    the welcome at its gate.

    As the moorland pool images the sun,
    so in our hours of self-giving Thou shinest on us,
    and we mirror Thee to others.
    But of that other land, our heaven to be,
    we have no picture at all.
    Only we know that Thou art there,
    and Jesus the door and the welcome
    of each faithful one.

  3. Dear Erinn: Just as Aaron and Hur held up the hands of Moses, (Exodus 17:12), others are lifting up your hands. I prayed for you this morning that the load would be lightened and that you would sense the presence of Jesus as never before. He said to “come to me when you are weary and I will give you rest; for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Take care of yourself and I will continue to pray for you and your team. Beulah C.

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