This week Tim Moon has been busy writing up a message to be delivered to his 12th graders at their Baccalaureate. Turns out, this is advice for all ages. I bet we all wish we’d received a send off like this when we graduated high school. Please enjoy these 4 L’s for staying center in life.
The first L is Live. By live, I do not mean just survive. Not that I don’t want you to survive, only that there is far more to living than mere survival. I mean fully live, in the present, in the now, to fully embrace the miracle and promise that every moment provides. Many spend their life chasing the future or running from the past, continually pursuing adequacy, and driven by fear. Never genuinely enjoying the now. I did this for much of my life.
Many graduates this year will jump from earning their diploma, to an unforgiving hamster wheel of existence, anxiously beginning a futile race through life. They may accomplish great things; they may not. But many will never stop and breath, they will never take the time to meditate and ponder the miraculous nature of this life. They will never know the wonder of a book, and they will never fully appreciate the gift of life that is already theirs, if they just take the time to look.
In other words, they will never really live. The now will always be nothing more than a means to an end. A starting line to the next thing. Another futile pursuit of something out there, beyond themselves. They will never just be enough in the present moment. But life was meant to be walked not run, experienced not chased, and you are already enough.
We are on a fantastic ride. We are traveling through the Galaxy at 200,000 kilometers an hour; on an amazingly vibrant planet; in a solar system that is orbiting one of a billion other stars, in just one of a billion other galaxies; in one of potentially, multiple possible universes. This ride is far superior to any attraction six flags will ever develop. It is magical.
But despite the magnificence of the planets, stars, galaxies, and universe, you are even more magnificent. You are even more magical. You are created in the image of the creator who is responsible for all of it. You are the reflection of God in space and time. You are here to be that reflection, to celebrate your connection to Him every moment of our life.
We are are the only part of creation that possesses this self-awareness. The very fact that you can doubt the existence of God is proof that He exists and enabled you to imagine that He doesn’t. To live in the moment, we must, as an innocent and grateful child, embrace our connection to God and relish in it genuinely. That is where real life is, and that is the secret to living the now, in the moment. A famous mystic once said, “Only from your heart can you touch the sky.” So to live, to genuinely live in the moment. Here is the secret: with an attitude of gratitude and innocence, in your innermost self, embrace the Loving Creator of this universe.
We also have to laugh more, especially at ourselves. We can’t take ourselves, or anything else so seriously that it tarnishes our sense of humor. We all do funny stuff. I know I certainly do. I think God has stated scheduling mine, so the angels know when to watch. I can see it now.
Angel: “You mean he is going to do that again?“
God: “Yes, at 8:15.”
Angel: “Oh man, I have to see that.”
We have to learn not to take ourselves too seriously. To let down our hair and be real. We don’t have an image that needs to be protected. We usually only strive to preserve false images anyway. We put on the show we think everyone needs or wants to see. This performance takes far more effort than it is worth and also accompanies a lot of anxiety and fear. And frankly, we are the often, the only one we fool. The image God gave us is good enough. We should relax and enjoy it, God does.
We should not take the world so seriously, either—so much of what happens here is entirely out of our control. We do a lot of damage to ourselves and others by trying to control things we can’t control. The phrase let go and let God is not just a cliche, it is the simple secret to relaxing, being yourself, seeing clearly to managing the little things that you can control, and not taking yourself so seriously. Laughter is the best medicine, and we should do it often.
Living in the moment also requires a desire to learn. Learning is not just something you do in school. It is something we should do our whole lives both to keep ourselves humble and to keep ourselves young. When we stop learning, we start dying. Einstein once said…
He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, his eyes are closed.
The ability to think is what distinguishes us from the rest of creation. We think conceptually because God thinks, and we are reflecting His image as we do it. Consequently, we should never stop hungering after more truth about Him and this magnificent universe. Mindfulness naturally produces curiosity. We should not let the routines of daily life close our eyes to wonder and awe.
Although the planets and stars and galaxies and the universe that we can see are spectacular, the invisible world is even more amazing. In fact, the smaller our discoveries get, the more mysterious our universe appears. Quantum reality is blowing our minds.
During the last century, physicists discovered that electrons collapse from waves of potential energy to elements of particular matter when they are measured. In other words, somehow, our observation of the electrons transforms them into matter. This is a profound mystery that still perplexes our greatest physicists and has spawned scientific theories that sound more like science fiction than science. Theories that propose the universe is a massive, highly sophisticated hologram and theories that claim that our consciousness is fundamental. In other words, time and space may be a giant video game that we are playing a role in constructing. Nature is God’s technology, and we are living in a kaleidoscope of wonder. We must never let our daily routines close our eyes to this.
Finally, we must love ourselves and each other to be fully mindful. Connection to the unconditional love of God is the essence of awareness and mindfulness. Our problem is that we often lose this conscious connection, because we allow things to block His light from shining on us. The most common culprits of this are fear, judgmentalism, and un-forgiveness. And these are all the products of pride and self-sufficiency which isolate us from God and other people.
By fear, I do not mean the fear of stepping in front of a train or jumping off a building. These are circumstances you can control, and it is right to be afraid of real threats, but instead, fear of things we vainly, only think we can control, like other people or most of the future. The former fears are a natural means of promoting survival. Without such concerns, the human species would have perished long ago. The latter fears often haunt us, seemingly without remedy. They are both conscious and sub-conscious and ultimately stem from the prideful belief that we are on our own.
We are not separate and on our own. We are children of a loving God that cares for us, and learning to turn those fears over to Him is part of mindfulness. “Perfect love casts out all fear.” 1 John 4:18
Judgmentalism and un-forgiveness also block us from consciously sensing God’s connection. These also pridefully separate us unto ourselves and naturally produce fear. Judgementalism, at its base, is qualifying others to be in our presence. What can be more prideful and isolating than that? It is ironic that religion and religious people so often do this. Suspending our preferences and giving others the benefit of the doubt, humbles us and makes us more sensitive to God’s presence. Have you ever noticed the most judgmental people are also the most fearful?
Un-forgiveness, as justified as it may seem, is ultimately, also, a belief that we are superior to those who have hurt us. And, we are rarely resentful of something or someone that we do not fear. The most excellent example of forgiveness that I know of is Christ saying from the cross, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” It is hard to imagine a higher degree of forgiveness extended, or a graver offense suffered. Forgiveness, both given and received, restores our connection to His unconditional love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 has the best human description of love.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
If we let go of pridefulness and anger and un-forgiveness, and we drop thoughts of evil, rather than entertain them, we can remain mindful and centered. Embracing this Love never fails to connect us to God.
Living, laughing, learning, and loving in their fullness, centers our focus, and allow us to sense God’s peace deep inside, where the sky is.