This is a shorty story I wrote about one of my greatest struggles: living in the present moment. While many people wrestle with the past, the future brings me anxiety. Learning to be present is perhaps one of the most important steps toward mastering prayer and contemplation and experiencing the presence of God.
“I Am,” he says.
I Am is always Now.
You Are here in the Now.
I Am meets You Are in the Now, always.
I Am is moving, is dancing, is alive. Do you feel it? There is rhythm, there is life, there is joy, there is a beat.
But You Are is frequently choosing to be You Will Be.
But only You Are can feel the rhythm, only You Are can move with the beat, only You Are is invited to the dance. But You Will Be always tries to crash the party. You Will Be shows up, but everybody is gone. Or maybe they just haven’t arrived? You Will Be is never certain because You Will Be can only physically live in the present, in the Now, but she tries to force and squeeze her way into the future.
You Will Be stands in a beautiful garden with high-powered binoculars taped to her eyes.
You Will Be asks, “I Am, what’s my purpose? I Am, what about my bills?”
I Am says, “Shh. Hush child and listen. Do you feel it, can you hear the rhythm? Please, dance with me.”
But You Will Be stands in the garden, fingers in her ears, blocking the melody as she strains to look into the future without distraction. She gets angry and confused, how I am supposed to know what I am to do with my life? she wonders.
I Am quietly speaks, “Please, put down the binoculars. I Am standing right beside you.” I Am gently touches her shoulder.
Startled, You Will Be unplugs her ears and begins waving her arms frantically, “I Am, where are you? I’m over here, please find me and help me! Something touched me and it’s freaking me out! I don’t know what to do with my life, and what about my job, where am I going to live, what will I wear, who should I marry, and which is right: free will or predestination?”
“I Am here.”
“Whoa,” she shouts while jumping back, attempting to look at his blurry image through her binoculars. “You got here fast!”
“Do you hear the music, do you feel the beat? Come You Are, let us dance together,” I Am exclaims.
Her complexion falls, “But there are so many unanswered questions. And you look so blurry anyway. Please quiet down, I have more important things on my mind than dancing.”
So, I Am patiently waits as You Will Be lifts her head and gazes into the horizon…seeing nothing, feeling nothing, hearing nothing.
For years, this repeats.
One day, You Will Be loses someone precious to her.
Crying. Broken. Beating the ground she screams, “Where are you I Am when I need you most? Why have you never answered my questions? Why do I have to be alone?” She lets out a whimper and falls to the ground. “I’m so lonely” she whispers.
“I Am here,” he whispers, his eyes brimming with compassion.
“Please, help me to see you better,” she begs.
“I will have to remove your binoculars.”
“But how will I see into the future?” she asks, fear paralyzing her.
“I Am there, just as I Am here.”
“That’s nice you’re beyond the whole space-time continuum thing, but I’m not. How will I see the future?” she asks becoming a little more demanding this time.
“You must trust me, Now. This very moment is last moment’s future. Please, become You Are.”
“But You Are is dirty and has little faith. You Are isn’t good enough for I Am yet. Someday though, I Am will make You Are into a better person,” she said.
“I Am is making you clean. You Are a gorgeous bride,” he said to her.
She blushes and looks down.
“Your dress is beautiful,” he tells her.
“Dress? I’m wearing a dress?”
“Yes, you put it on years ago when you first met me. Don’t you remember? Please, let me remove the binoculars so that you can see me, and see that I Am has made you clean, even Now.”
You Will Be breathes deeply. “Alright, go ahead.” Carefully, I Am peels away the tape which has firmly attached the binoculars to You Are’s eyes for years. As he removes them, You Are blinks several times trying to get her eyes to focus. Taking in I Am’s appearance and the beautiful garden around her, You Are smiles and shouts, “This is amazing!”
Laughing joyfully, I Am leaps toward her, “I knew you would like it, I made it for you. Now my love, do you hear it? Listen closely.”
“I think,” You Are stutters while straining to hear, “I think there is music.”
“Yes, there is, and it is beautiful. Will you dance with me?”
“Well, I guess I will,” she sheepishly looks down and adds, “But I don’t know how.”
“Come,” he says, taking her hand with a sparkle in his eye and lifting her to her feet, “it is much easier than you realize, and I Am leading.”
You Are moves with I Am, but begins to feel clumsy. She looks into his eyes and sees only love and a warm smile looking back. As she stares more deeply into his eyes, her heart fills with love, with desire, with purpose, and with grace. She looks around and realizes they have been dancing for hours. She doesn’t remember all of their steps, but she knows she has moved more gracefully then what she ever thought possible. Evening is setting in and the fireflies have joined the dance. He slows it down and she leans against his chest, feeling the steady heartbeat, thump-thump, thump-thump.
Suddenly he speaks up, “Your heart has the same rhythm as mine. And it speaks.”
“What does it say?” she asks curiously.
“Your heart says, ‘You-Are, You-Are.’ It is a reminder.”
“A reminder of what?”
“To always be with me Now. I do not ask you to be with me later, or in the past. Always Now though.”
And You Are begins to understand that I Am makes us to live Now. She feels his presence, his love, his peace, his joy, and his purpose more completely Now. When attempting to gaze into the future, she feels lost, confused, cut-off, distracted, anxious. This habit is extremely difficult to break. But I Am is always here, always Now. She remembers these things and takes comfort in them.
You Are’s friends notice a difference in her as well. She listens more fully, she responds more thoughtfully, she thinks not of Later, but of cherishing the moments with others.
“You-Are, You-Are,” she says, feeling her heart’s rhythm in her chest.