It is one of the hardest things to teach or to learn about driving: how to keep one’s eyes and attention on the way ahead, where the vehicle will be, instead of where it is. Harder still is to see and understand where other cars, other moving vehicles and objects will be, and how that will affect the intended path. I love to drive, and I especially enjoy it when all my senses and awareness are attuned to this complex progress of objects and motion, allowing me to pilot my vehicle smoothly and even gracefully through the chaos that congests our roadways.
There is a sense in which this is a microcosm of life, how we pilot our persons and responsibilities on the way. For our families and for our work, we have to be aware of the road ahead and what else is on it. We have to be aware beforehand of opportunities and hazards, to plan ahead and prepare.
This is no less true for me as pastor with the parish. Here it is First Holy Communion weekend and I am looking at all of May as if it were a single stretch of (highly congested) roadway, with events and obligations, for most of which I have been preparing since early Lent. Ben Petty’s ordination to the Priesthood and First Mass here Father’s Day weekend seem like day after tomorrow on the to-do list. And the start of school (yes, the START of school) is what I’m discussing in my meetings with Mr. Ewanciw, our principal.
Right now, most people I know have their eye on summertime and a list of things they have to accomplish before then. And I can’t say I’m terribly different; so I know how this happens. But I also know that it comes at great price. Rather like the choir, who must always be practicing the Easter Alleluias in the middle of Lent, our future obligations can invade our present moments.
And this present moment, this one right now, holds for us a gift of enormous value and delight. This present moment, in fact, reveals before our eyes if we open them the repair of all damage we have suffered, and inflicted; this present moment offers us the provision and preparation for all that we hope to accomplish.
In this present moment, Jesus, the Son of God, whom all the prophets promised and of whom all the psalms sing, the One Who is coming into the world, stands before us face to face. In this present moment, Jesus, the Holy One of God Whom we put to death by hanging Him on a tree with the nails of our sins and disregard, comes to us and says: Peace be with you. In this present moment, Jesus the Anointed One, the Bridegroom, calls to us and promises that He will be faithful to us, saying: come, have breakfast.
As I offer our children their First Holy Communion, I see in their eyes and hear in the breath of their whispered Amen the simple awareness of the present moment. The excitement and preparation give way to that instant, the intimate encounter when their Lord and Friend comes to be welcomed and to dwell in them. And in that glance, I see Him look at me.
It is one of the hardest things to teach or to learn about living: how to keep one’s eyes and attention on the gift and mystery directly in front of us, to see where our life is, instead of trying to figure out where it will be. Open your eyes to the feast that is before you: Christ is risen from the dead; truly He is risen. Alleluia!