“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; Beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul.” – Ps. 23:1-3

It is sadly ironic that the season that most invites us to be still is filled with so many activities and so much busyness. We scramble and stress to find the perfect presents for our friends and family. There may be end-of-the-year tasks and goals we are trying to meet at work or finals to prepare for. We overcommit ourselves to various volunteer activities because it is, after all, the season to be generous. On top of all of that, there are holiday parties, travel plans, etc. With so much vying for our time and energy, can we find a place of repose and create space for the coming of our Lord?

I shared with a coworker, “I am ready to skip December and go straight to winter break.” More than previous years, I feel stretched thin and lacking in energy. However, I have been able to find some solace in morning prayer. More often than not, “prayer” would be intermingled with thinking about plans for the day, solving some technical problem at work, or dwelling on some past hurt.

One particular morning while frustrated with my inability to stay focused and not distracted, I took a deep breath and simply listened. I heard the low hum of the refrigerator, the cars driving on the freeway nearby, and even neighbors preparing for their day. I sat and simply listened. It occurred to me that I was planting myself in the “here and now” and not the fantasies and unrealities my mind creates. Everything that mattered had coalesced into that single moment and time, and a wonderful grace was given to me. I was filled with love in a way that transcended any suffering I was feeling, any hurt others may have inflicted on me, and any incompleteness and self-preoccupations I usually dwell on. It was a gift and a reminder for me that God/love/grace is in every present moment, and I can tap into that wellspring by planting myself firmly in the “here and now.”

Advent is the season of waiting for the coming of our Lord. It also helps us to practice to wait in the unfolding of our lives with all of its bumps, turns, and detours. This type of waiting does not put priority on the future nor does it diminishes the present. In moments when I feel drained, anxious, and restless, I pray for the grace of stillness and patience. Everything truly good that has happened to me happened not because I rushed and reached for it. It came to me as a gift when I rested and received it.

Lord Jesus, help me to wait with patience in stillness and see the sacrament of the present moment.

Michael Jamnongjit