Being Present

I wrote this blog about how volunteering at our local warming shelter opened up my eyes to much more than just the plight of the homeless.

The unexpected happened. Something none of my mission trips, immersion retreats, or service outings had prepared me for. This was the first time I had served the homeless community in my own town, and I was not prepared to know some of the guests. I was not prepared to see former teens and the parents of teens come in from the cold with everything the owned in a backpack on their back.

At first, I felt helpless. I felt so inadequate, certain that futzing with the finicky washing machine for my shift couldn’t do anything for these individuals. I felt like all I could do was to be there, and that being there wasn’t enough.

Read the whole thing

While I focused on how this experience challenged me to be a better youth minister, the reality is that it challenged me to be a better – well, everything.  A better wife, a better mother, a better friend, a better Christian.

The thing is, it’s REALLY hard to be present – there are so many little things that require immediate attention – all at once.

On Saturday, I found myself trying to convince the not-yet-potty-trained-because-apparently-we-don’t-have-this-parenting-thing-figured-out-yet 3 year old not to pull down his dirty diaper in the living room and playing a game of Uno while at the same time showing my husband how to open the vacuum cleaner (which promptly dumped out all over the couch, the kids, me, and the Uno game).  In trying to be present to the dirty diaper, the Uno game, and my husband’s battle with the vacuum, I ended up being present to none of them.

So, I’ve made a commitment to re-read this blog every morning during Lent and to try to focus on just one person or situation I can be fully and totally present to that day – no distractions.  We’ll see how it goes.

How can you be fully present today?


  1. Tim Weldon · February 19, 2013

    Good witness to something that needs continuous refreshing in our church. We are all called to this. I was made aware of this kind of connection and presence for each other through Cursillo. It’s a charism of the Catholic Church that has been arouind for 70 years and is passed on generationally with about a 20 year cycle in growth spurts. It’s focus is two-fold: the progressive lifelong conversion of the person and the sharing of the good news of God’s love in friendship with others in our life. Your experience is at the heart of this charism. Matthew Kelly’s book on Rediscovering Catholicism touches on this in a 5 page section on “evangelization” around page 300. He speaks of a four-fold strategy which I totally embrace and the Cursillo charism lays right on top of:
    1. Nurture friendships – we need to stay connected intentionally with those we befriend
    2. Pray for those we care about, especially where they are earching for friendship and/or Christ in their life
    3. Share your story – it is your witness to grace at work in your life that helps others embrace a journey pof faith.
    4. Invite – offer Christ and his promise to others in friendship after building trust with the person.
    This is our batpismal call annd mission as church.
    Your story reflects it well.
    Thanks for sharing it.

    • ymkbird · February 19, 2013

      Thanks Tim – your 4 points are a great follow up for exactly what being present can look like! Great tips –

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