By Rev. Catherine Stark-Corn, Interim Minister of Children, Youth and Families
The sounds of trotting feet and nervous giggles came from behind the curtain as the 1st graders moved into place to perform their song and dance. The music filled the large room and the curtains drew back to reveal 20 decked out 6 year olds performing a traditional Mexican dance as part of the Cinco de Mayo celebration at my son’s school, Foreign Language Academy. What a treasured time to see his bare feet stomping out the steps and his hat moving as he swayed with his partner. And yet as I look at the pictures from this event some years ago, what I recall most was how worried I was to get into position to ‘capture’ the whole performance on video and in pictures – so much so that I am not sure I can recall the event aside from the pictures. I was so busy trying to immortalize the moment that I was not even present in the moment when it was happening.
In this time of endless pulls to publish our lives on social media; these days full of mounting worries that cause us to feel like we need up to the minute information – are we losing the ability to be present, fully present in any one moment? With small and large screens dominating our daily lives – what are we missing out on in our interactions? When is the last time we sat undistracted at dinner with a friend or family? It’s hard to recall the last time I lost myself singing a favorite song while driving all the while resisting the urge to check texts or the newsfeed at the stoplight.
There seems to be a false urgency to be in the know, to be constantly connected – but what are we trading for this perpetual virtual presence? When I wrestle with practicing being present my mind is always pulled to the Hebrew passage from Psalms, Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10) How purely simple and yet how often I utterly fail at this action time and again. Being aware of our need to focus our attention, our hearts, our spirits on the ever loving Creator can be the first step in living in the moment. And once you have experienced the fullness that connection can bring to one’s life, it is hard to get enough of it.