What if all that is happening to us in this moment is exactly what we need?
About a week ago I began teaching again after a delightful six weeks off. The demands of teaching have thrown off my whole schedule, and made it hard to find time for meditation, exercise, and sleep – the basic disciplines I need for balance. It looks as if the demands of teaching are the problem. But what if those demands and the havoc they are wrecking on my schedule are exactly what I need?
The 18th-century treatise “L’Abandon à la providence divine” is attributed traditionally to Jean-Pierre de Caussade, though recent scholarship doubts this attribution. For the moment, it remains anonymous. The work has been translated into English under the titles Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence and The Sacrament of the Present Moment. It is a masterpiece of Christian spirituality.
I especially like that second title, The Sacrament of the Present Moment. A sacrament, in Christian understanding, is an embodiment of grace. It is God-in-the-flesh. What if the suffering and challenges and, yes, even the serious mistakes of this moment are the embodiment of God? What if in running from those challenges or fighting them we are running from and fighting God? What if in facing them with acceptance we are facing God?
“What comes to us at each instant by God’s ordering is what is holiest, best, and most divine for us,” says our author. “You only have to receive everything and let it happen. Everything is directing you, straightening you out, carrying you… Everything is God’s hand… His action is… more present than the elements: he enters into you through all your senses…
“The present moment is always like an ambassador declaring God’s ordering, and the heart is always saying its fiat” – fiat is Latin for ‘let it be done.’
The demands of teaching are not a hindrance to my spiritual life, I am learning. They are the way God is meeting me now. I do well to accept whatever this moment brings, attend to it, appreciate it. For in doing so, I am accepting, attending to, appreciating – in short, I am loving – God.