I'm here. I'm a bunch of bundled winter layers, waddling around this city's concrete maze with dancing feet to fight from freezing. But, I'm here. I'm sitting through the winter with NYC like she's undergoing snow-capped surgery. I'll be here when she wakes up in the Spring and I'll be ready to unleash all the frozen energy of my hibernation. But for now, I'm here.
And I'm learning that presence is a big deal.
God must have thought so when He sent His only Son to be fully present in a messy world. There is something special about walking dusty paths and rubbing elbows at dinners and swapping conversation in the synagogues... something special about God choosing to send Emmanuel (literally, God with us) to be present in all the daily grind of things.
But sometimes being present is a slow suffocation - like a packed, silent subway car or an empty apartment or a long walk between the B44 and the A train. It's hard to sit still, hard to think slowly, and hard to listen. Even now, I am filling the hour in between work and Club with jazz, seasoned sauteed mushroom/pepper scramble, and this post.
I wonder how Jesus lived fully present, fully inside the moment right in front of Him.
Last Sunday, our pastor talked about presence being the most important gift we can give because it is the most important gift we have received. Christ gave Himself. When it was awkward and hard and one-sided, He gave Himself and found delight in knowing it pleased His Father.
This kind of being is not easy. Sometimes, it feels forced or foolish or fumbling. It feels like all those things a lot to me. But, at least when I'm brave enough to try it, my pastor's words are right. It is beautiful and I want to do better.
I need grace to live more fully present - to give myself when it's awkward and hard and one-sided. I need grace to keep posting Pancake Monday signs on neighbors' doors and handing them to friends. I need grace to know how to listen well. I need grace to fight the urge to hide away and grace to be honest when that is exactly what I most want.
I need grace and God loves to pour it out.
Life here feels like a novel written in stream of consciousness style, dreaming and waking and working all weave together with fragmented threads. But God has grace enough to shake me free of all the clutter. He has grace to invite me to receive the gift of His presence and to learn how to give the way He gave.