Minister's Corner: Don't you love right now?

Tom Dahlman
Emmanuel Episcopal Shawnee

A childhood preacher, and later a ministry friend of mine, Terry Rush frequently said in sermons, “Don’t you just love right now?” He would sometimes add, “Little thought is given to the fantastic wow of now.” Yep, you read that right. He would say, “The wow of now.” He was (and still is) one of my favorite people, but when I was younger this drove me crazy. I often do not, “love right now.” There were days when I wanted to say audibly in church, “No, I don't, Terry.” Now that I am older and (hopefully) wiser I think he was onto something.

In a reading group we had at Emmanuel we always began with good news and bad news. It was a time where we went around the room and every person would share some good news or some bad news. Then we would pray and start reading and discussing. Our retired deacon, the Rev. Doyal Davis, often attended the reading group. He was wheelchair bound due to a stroke and dependent on help. He had a lot he could have legitimately complained about, but he never did. It would have been fine if he had, but he always shared good news or just said, “pass,” with a wave of his hand.

One day Doyal shared some good news that hit me hard. When we came to him in the circle he said, “A robin made a nest just outside my back door. Every day I get to sit and watch her with her babies.” Then he paused, and tears began to form in his eyes. Finally, he said with great effort and emotion, “It’s so beautiful.” The group was stunned silent for a moment.

In those few minutes Doyal, who had many good reasons to be depressed, seemed to have found as much joy watching a robin with her babies as I had ever found in any great moment of my life. He seemed at that moment to be completely present in his day. He was not looking for something better down the road to make him happy. He was not wishing his life away. Doyal was actually loving his right now.

The ironic thing is that in our reading group we were discussing a book about learning to be present in each moment. The idea was that if we could all learn to be silent, to be present in each moment, we could find God and really see each other. I told Doyal after class he probably didn’t need to read the book. He seemed to have figured it out already.

We read over and over in scripture about the need to find contentment. This doesn’t mean that we don’t work to improve our lives or our world, but it does mean that we learn to be thankful in the moment for the good things that we do have. If we want to find joy in our faith this is something we must learn. If we can do this we will find God in our daily bread, in friends, beautiful days, in all the simple beauty and goodness we find in life. Learning to do this takes practice and it certainly takes the Spirit.