Which Is More Important: the Present or the Future?

This year I’ve been cooking a lot of vegetables. I signed up for a subscription to a CSA farm, and every week I’m getting a big bag full of vegetables and fruit. I’ve been having a lot of fun in the kitchen, chopping cabbage, snapping the ends of beans, cooking up yet another pan full of zucchini. I’m finding it a great spiritual exercise, actually. I’ve been reminded of St. Benedict’s phrase, ora et labora, pray and work. Manual labor can be prayer, according to Benedict. I’m not much of an outside worker (I limit my gardening to deadheading roses), but preparing meals is a joy for me, and a way to stay in the moment.

Living in the moment is a great spiritual task (perhaps the most important one). Of course, leaders must think about the future, envision the future, articulate a vision for the future for their followers. But if we can’t be present in the moment, with God, with ourselves, and with those we lead, we will never get to the vision: because we can only make decisions and take action in the present. We can only listen to people in the present. The more we can be here in that moment, without anxiously darting into the future or recovering all the memories of past conversations gone wrong, the more likely we are to respond well to the actual situation in front of us. The future vision can only become reality if we show up for the present.

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