My downtown office window overlooks a cemetery. I’m drawn to the beauty of its old, sprawling oaks and oversized, granite headstones. Each tower is a timeless tribute to a life once present and thriving.
Hardly a day goes by that a glance overlooking the walking paths doesn’t reveal visitors. Some yearning for just one more moment. Some sorrowfully making up for moments never cherished. Others finding solace in sharing private details of moments now lived apart. All longing for the gift of presence.
We were created for presence.
We were fashioned out of a desire for fellowship and companionship. We were designed to inhabit and occupy and be. Yet, too often the very gift of presence is only treasured when it no longer exists.
I remember him every year at this time. His face flashes through my memory along with the echo of giggles exchanged between boys casting their bread ball hooks into the lake, hoping for bass but satisfied with carp. I also remember the wrenching grief no mother should ever experience. The kind that destroys hope and bottles up a soul tight for a lifetime.
He would be the same age as my boy, and although the years have become a decade long, the memories lie fresh. We talk of him ever so often. I want those endless days to be marked by “remember when.” I want this boy of mine to grasp the meaning of even a short daydream of presence. Because it all matters, and it’s all a gift.
In the flurry of his day, I want him to remember that presence isn’t defined by space or time or distance. It isn’t bound by rules or explained in “how-to’s.” And you won’t find it listed beneath any “to-do’s.”
Presence ebbs and flows out of a desire to simply “be.”
In all our coming and going, it’s the sum of what God really wants for each of us — to be in His presence and Him to be with us. He knows this gift will nourish and breathe life into our souls where no earthly doing can. In the numbering of all our days, He yearns for us to catch a glimpse of the holy lavishness of this gift of presence.
Where we can be emptied of regret and filled with hope.
Where we can be released of sorrow and comforted in love.
Where we can be freed from striving and bask in enough.
How can we ever fully grasp the gift of His eternal presence if we don’t make time for His earthly presence now?
A vine-wrapped stone archway frames the iron entrance to the cemetery. All are welcome to enter and encouraged to rest and be. And even through a closed window, I hear his shepherding voice. His message echoes across my heart.
He reminds me of those sacred moments of time spent in Him and with Him. There is no judgment and no record of missed companionship. There’s only a glimmer in His eye as I catch His glance. His smile melts away my excuses, and His arms envelope me in joy.
He whispers His unwavering love into my soul.
This gift of His presence flows through every one of my busy moments, stilling my lists and erasing my to-do’s.
In the quiet, inhabiting moment, I hear His words . . . “Remember when?”
And this is all I want — to remember, to rest, and to be still in His presence.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
The gift of presence…I know I take for granted that there will be a tomorrow for a phone call, a cup of coffee, a hug and conversation, or even a text. But, that tomorrow is not guaranteed. Thank you for this wake up call to be present today because, for now, today is all that I am given.
Blessings and thanks,
This is beautiful….Thank you for sharing with us.
Thank you for writing.
Jason R says
We are, after all, human “be”-ings, not human “do”-ings.
Jason, I love this!! Thanks for reading:)
Crystal, yes, Being, not always Doing. Being in God’s presence. Being fully present with those who are in my circle, especially my family. God wants our hearts before our hands. Being in His presence is what fills and strengthens and prepares me for the doing, when I am to do something. God has been speaking this to me lately, and your words confirm the beauty of simply BEING before God and in God.
“God wants our hearts before our hands”…I like that! We seem to be on the same journey. Blessings as you practice BEING!
Nancy Ruegg says
Perhaps the way to enjoy God’s presence is to include him in and around the busy moments of each day. During some tasks, we can praise and worship God, listen to his voice, share our thoughts with him–even as we’re working. For those responsibilities that require intense concentration, we can ask for his help before we begin, and thank him afterwards for that help. We can pray about outcomes, too. Before we know it, and just as you’ve said, we’ll be enjoying the gift of God’s presence flowing through every busy moment. (Now to practice what I’ve just preached!)
I agree totally Nancy! And I think the key is “practice” so we become more aware and connected to Him. I think sharing here on (in)courage is a perfect way to help us all remain in God’s presence:)
Nancy Ruegg says
Oh, yes! Staying connected with sisters on the same journey does help to maintain focus!
Beth Williams says
I agree! When driving to and from places I listen to quiet praise music and use that time to pray! It may be a simple keep me calm, and patient, or help this person. Gets my mind on Him and not the world!!
Nancy Ruegg says
Sounds like you’ve discovered a great way to take the stress out of driving, Beth! P.S. Thank you for your prayer of blessing–I AM incredibly blessed! May you also see God’s work in your life around every turn.)
I love this quote: “How can we ever fully grasp the gift of His eternal presence if we don’t make time for His earthly presence now?” This is a great reminder today.
Ann Kite says
Crystal, this is beautiful. So glad you shared this! I worked at PBA many years ago- and looked out over that cemetery as well… Perspective, I imagine, is a timeless gift of cemeteries.
So excited for you, that you got to share your words on (in)courage- what an honor!!
What a small world Ann… did not realize until reading your comment that we are neighbors! I’d love to connect at a gathering sometime!
Beth Williams says
In this hustle and bustle world with all its technology-people can be together yet not be “present”! My parents always said do for me now while I’m alive. Be present with me. You are never promised tomorrow so take time to call write, email or text that person. When in a group or with just one friend–be fully present!!!