Like a child: Mindfulness as a way to praise God

| Ginny Kubitz Moyer | February 27, 2014 | 0 Comments
Ginny Kubitz Moyer

Ginny Kubitz Moyer

Since becoming a mom, I’ve discovered that young kids have an astonishing ability to ignore both past and future. They are experts at being totally, completely in the moment.

As every parent knows, this isn’t always a good thing. When that long-awaited trip to the toy store has to be postponed for a day, young kids generally greet this news with a stunning lack of perspective. At moments like this, we wish our preschoolers could see the big picture a little more clearly.

But, though our children’s inability to look past the here-and-now can be challenging, it’s also something I envy. There is something downright appealing about being able to disable the constant awareness of the future. Spiritual writers call this “mindfulness,” a state of pure engagement in the present moment.

I call it really, really hard.

Even on a leisurely Saturday morning, when my kids are playing nicely and I’m hunkered down with a good book and a cup of coffee, there’s usually some distraction tempering my joy.

Inevitably, the future sends its little gray-suited ambassadors to knock on the door of my mind. Remember that you have to clean the bathroom this afternoon, they tell me firmly. And you need to hunt down those income tax documents, too, don’t you? And before I know it, my moment of bliss is ringed with the indelible marker of other moments and other concerns.

Kids, as far as I can tell, aren’t like this. Their great moment is a great moment, pure and simple.

Being ‘in the moment’

All of this makes me think about Christ’s famous words: “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (Luke 18: 17, NRSV).

There are many ways to apply this passage to our lives, but perhaps one is that we need to be fully in the moment, like children, in order to experience the fullness of joy.

We need to train ourselves to see happy moments as little previews of heaven, gifts to be savored. We assume that we’ll have lots of fun times with the people and activities we love, but life offers no guarantees. This is why I’ve found that people who have battled serious illness are often very good at relishing their joy. They know what it’s like to have future fears creep into their lives, but they also know firsthand that happiness is precious, and should be protected.

Thinking back to my leisurely mornings, I know that I can’t totally block out those little ambassadors of the future. That said, maybe I can change the way that I engage with them. “I’m not available now,” I can tell them politely but firmly.

This present happiness is important business, and I’m going to give it my full attention. After all, my responsibilities aren’t going anywhere. Happiness, on the other hand, sometimes feels elusive. When I have it, I should cherish it as much as I can, knowing that doing so is one beautiful way of praising God.

This kind of mindfulness takes practice, of course. It’s an irony that I need to re-learn something that came instinctively to me as a child.

But watching my sons laugh with joy as they whoosh down the playground slide, I’m reminded that it’s an effort worth making, and that the best teachers are right in front of me.

Kubitz Moyer is the author of three books, including “Random MOMents of Grace: Experiencing God in the Adventures of Motherhood” (Loyola Press). She blogs at http://www.RandomActsofMomness.com.

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Category: Commentary