Archives for January 2006

'RE-collecting' Yourself

I’ve had occasion this week to reflect on the importance of living in the present moment. How do we live in the present and mindfully stay focused on the task at hand? What is the process involved? This spiritual task is one that requires much practice on our part.

Let’s break it down a bit more.

In current spiritual writing, the term ‘attentiveness’ is used to designate being immersed in the present moment of time. As Corrine Ware points out in her wonderful book, St Benedict on the Freeway, the older term that was used in lieu of attentiveness was ‘recollected’. Being ‘re’-collected, reassembled, is the perfect term for this process.

Also, note this discussion is premised on our status as tri-part beings: mind (mental/emotional), body (physical), and spirit.

Now let’s look at an example. I am on a conference call and decide, in the interest of efficiency, to multitask and run an errand to the store to pick up a couple of items. Where am I with regard to space and time?

    Mind: 80% focused on the conference call/20% focused on the errand
    Body: Traveling to and from the store / in the store
    Spirit: ??? in the store? on the call? split somewhere between the two? is the split between the two activities blunting my ability to connect with God? Most likely!

Where am I? When am I?

Dis-jointed and dis-associated! Mind, body, and spirit all in different locations!

And isn’t that the crux of the problem? When we are split amongst our self, we are not only not present in the present moment; we are also not present to ourselves or to others that we come in contact with (the people on my conference call nor the clerk at the store). This is a real problem in our culture. We are disjointed, disassociated individuals moving through time and space in such a way that we do harm to our self and to the others we come in connect with because of our inability or unwillingness to be present – both space and time – with ourselves and to one another.

What is the remedy for this malady? ‘Re-collecting’ ourselves: body, mind, and spirit – allowing all three to be together in the same place at the same time. When we have ‘re-collected’ ourselves, then we are not only able to be attentive to the present moment we actually exist in the present moment. We don’t fully exist in the present moment if we are not ‘re-collected’.

Attentiveness can then be defined as our ability to align body, mind, and spirit in such a way that they exist at the same place in the same moment of time. If that moment is now, then that is living in the present!

The other NT concept that fits in nicely with this line of thought, is that of telos (Greek) which is translated quite often in scripture as perfection – but really connotes the idea of completion or, perhaps more precisely, that of being made complete.

Here I think of a puzzle with all of its pieces scattered about on a table, a parent and a three year old child. The puzzle is made complete by gathering the pieces together and re-assembling them. The parent sets about putting together the puzzle while the three year old merrily ‘helps’, pulling pieces out of place and chunking them in the floor or by forcing pieces into spaces in which they don’t fit.

The puzzle is like our lives – often in bits and pieces scattered about. God is like the parent – He can put the pieces together in the right places to complete the puzzle the right way and is working towards this end. We, however, are like the three-year old child merrily disrupting the process at hand.

Can we still ourselves for a moment and ‘re-collect’ ourselves -body, mind, and spirit – so that God can have a hand at shaping us and putting us together to be the creation that we were created to be? The more that we are able to do this (and it only happens with much, much practice); the more that the spiritual part of who we are will be integrated with our body and our mind and the better we will become at living in the present moment.