Sometime ago I was driving to Queen of All Saints Basilica during rush hour and I noticed something. We were hitting some road construction and the two lanes were merging into one. I am usually a gentle person who does not get upset easily. However, the way some people drive really gets to me. While many of us were in the left lane patiently waiting, some drivers thought they were smarter than all of us. They tried to get ahead of everyone by cutting in. I was quite angry at their “I am better than you” attitude. As I was trying to calm myself down, I wondered why some people are always rushing.
That incident made me think of other similar situations. A couple of years ago I was meeting a friend for breakfast at a pancake house (Boy, I love pancakes!). As we walked in, I saw a family of about eight sitting at a table. While most of the family members were engaged in a spirited conversation, their teenage daughter was texting someone on her phone. I wondered why we would ignore the people in our presence to connect with someone far away.
Last week I was talking to a dad whose only child was going away to college. He was justifiably getting emotional. He realized that his life was changing. He was making every attempt to squeeze in one more activity with his son. I wonder whether the dad was regretting missed opportunities to spend more time with his child. We all wish we had more time with someone when we are about to say good-bye.
These three episodes point out for me the same lesson: Regrets arise when we refuse to embrace the moment. We live in a consumer culture that promises exciting new experiences all the time. It tries very hard to seduce us into thinking that the adventures to come will be much better than the ones at hand. In succumbing to their seduction we lose out on the experiences that are right under our noses. Grandparents, who have recently discovered digital cameras and are adamant about taking pictures at baptisms and weddings, remind me of the same temptation. They are more concerned about recording an event for the future while they miss out cherishing the present.
As we are about to close another school year, I invite all of us to embrace the moment. Summer is around the corner. Hopefully we can relax and make an effort to enjoy the moment. Even though we know it in our hearts, we don’t admit that time relentlessly marches on. The past is gone and the future is not promised. What we have is just the present. Instead of waiting for a better day or someone other than the one right in front of me, can we give our full attention and effort to the task at hand, to the person standing in our presence? Before we realize it, our children will have grown and our teenagers will have moved off to college. Let us cherish every moment with them. Let us live in the present. Let us not be blind to the experiences that God presents us today.
I came across a simple, beautiful prayer that speaks to my suggestion to embrace the moment. Maybe we can recite it every morning and ask the Lord to help us live in the present, taking one day at a time.
Dear Lord, I know that I am kinder when I slow down.
When I am less rushed,
I can find time for people who need a kind word or a helping hand.
When my nerves are calm, I can listen better to someone who needs a friend.
When I am attentive to the moment, I can give my heart to the tasks at hand.
Teach me, Lord, that wisdom comes to those who embrace the moment.
Let me understand that it is not the swift who win the race,
that doing good requires more than being active.
Calm my frayed nerves. Soothe my frenzied mind. Slow me down.
Make me realize that I may not be able to finish today all that I must accomplish.
I may not even do them as well as I wish I could.
Help me seize the day, embrace the moment,
be attentive to the person in front of me.
May I resist the temptation to live in some distant future!
Today is all I have. Today is your gift to me.
Let me love my family, my friends, and everyone around me.
Let me make the best of the time you give me.
May I come to the end of my day totally content
because I spent it for You and for others.
We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Before you go to sleep tonight, hug your children, kiss your spouse, say a kind word to your friend. Make the best of the time that God gives you. Slow down! Embrace the moment! Seize the day!
May the God of time and eternity bless our days and make them fruitful!
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...