I’ve got my Apple Watch set so that when I don’t have a calendar event, the phrase “Be Here Now” pops up on the calendar app.
There aren’t many days when “Be Here Now” is the only thing on my schedule. But yesterday was one of those days. Today is too.
Just about every minister you know —if you sat them down and shot them full of truth serum— would tell you that they are always worried about the “other” thing they are supposed to be doing.
Like, *always* worried about it…all…the…time…
The nature of the job is such that there is always another call or visit to make, always an upcoming program to plan, always something administrative that didn’t get done. It always feels as if you’re failing somebody at the church, or your family, or yourself.
Some years back, this dynamic was so overwhelming in my life that I rarely slept well. It was a part of the thing (not all, just one part) that gave me the excuse to not work out or eat well (“I don’t have time to exercise, I’ve got to do….”).
And then, something broke in me. I realized I could not live this way much longer. As I wrote about last year around this time, a big part of that “break” was realizing that I needed to care for my own physical health, and “recover from time release suicide.”
You would think that ministers would be good at self care, since we’re always telling everybody else how they should do it too. And, although I’ve only mentioned clergy here, my sense is that anybody in the “helping professions” falls victim to this. Lots of folks struggle at this.
So, that’s where “Be Here Now” came in for me.
I’m thinking about the phrase a lot this week, since its creator, Ram Dass, died a few days ago.
I did not know him. But I know spiritual friends who knew him. He was such a fearless spiritual seeker, and moved through so many complex stages of development, discovery, and rediscovery.
He was something of a spiritual Father to all of the first-cohort Baby Boomers…who were/are so much like much older brothers and sisters (or young Uncles/Aunts) to me.
And by the end of his life, he’d tried drugs and moved away from them…rejected traditional religion, and then rediscovered it…been through three or four major periods of life transition…
In other words, he’d done that classic spiritual seeking that is/was so much a part of all those older, first-cohort Baby Boomers’ experiences.
And the part of his teaching that’s most important to ME is:
It means something different to everyone.
Here’s what it means to me…
“Be present where you are. Take the time to breathe in and out, and exist in the moment where you are now. Find the beauty and presence of God in THIS moment.”
“Don’t fret about the past, or worry the future. Look around you. Turn off the “to do” list in your head. Put down the iPhone.”
“Turn off the music, even. Pause.
Be where you are….not where you WANT to be someday…or where you wish you had been before…or where you FEAR to be later.”
“Be. Here. Now.”
With the advent of social media, we’ve never lived in a time where this spiritual practice is more challenging.
We are ALL so immediately able to “spectator” on our own lives….to pull out of our bodies and be somewhere else…
Watch a cat video…
Channel surf the TV…
Curate our *own* Instagram pics…
Facetime with somebody halfway around the world…
Respond to a “hair on fire” email from work…
In other words, be anywhere *else* but where we are, now.
And I love all that stuff, don’t get me wrong.
But it pulls me (and you) out of where you are NOW.
Be. Here. Now.
I’ve also got my Apple Watch set to assist me with this. (Part of my effort to turn my device back into something that helps me unplug from my devices…)
Once an hour, sends me a me a tiny alert, and pings “Be Here Now” as a pop up.
What I HOPE happens next is that I STOP…take three long, deep breaths, and reconnected with the people and and things going on around me RIGHT NOW.
Sometimes, this is easy.
Sometimes, it’s quite hard.
Sometimes, there is suffering or pain in my life, or the world’s, and who wants to consciously BE in that?!
Sometimes, it pisses me off because I’m either deep in thought, or deeply invested in the “spectatoring” that I am doing at the moment.
But, all in all, it helps. My awareness of the NOW is actually better, overall, than it was before I started this practice.
I still don’t achieve it as much as I’d like. I would put my success rate…even with all this practice…at maybe 30-40 percent. (Like any good habit, that’s better than nothing…)
Again, you’d think we spiritual teachers would be better at this.
The old expression seems to be right: Those that can’t do, teach.
Jesus was an expert at BEING in the NOW.
The sense I get of Jesus in the Gospels is that he was always able to be WITH people, where ever they were…
Suffering with the suffering…
Drinking with the joyous…
Eating with the common folk…
Telling stories to the confused and contemplative…
When Jesus tells us to “Consider the lilies…Think about the birds…do not worry about your life…”
This is very much the same teaching as “Be Here Now.”
Jesus, through the mystery of incarnation, teaches us to look around and see the beauty of God’s incarnate world; and “Therefore, do not worry about your life…”
Tomorrow has its own trouble, Jesus says.
“Be here now.”
And so, today is yet another day where there’s nothing on the calendar but “Be Here Now.” And in this moment, I’m enjoying the view of the thick fog out over the lake.
And I’m grateful that I now take this moment of quiet back with me (much more than I used to) into my every-day life.
And for this moment, I think of Christmas and the Incarnation.
I think of Ram Dass’ spiritual seeking and his remarkable phrase that has so indwelled our culture.
And I think of all of YOU today, and hope and pray that this season will renew your spirit, and lead you to live out BE HERE NOW in your every day life.