Love and Presence Are Central to LifeJan 04, 2023
Blog by Gem Fadling
Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941), was a prolific writer and retreat leader. She was mentored by Baron Friedrich von Hugel and credits him for inspiring her spiritual life. She wrote on the spiritual life for ordinary people. I’ve (Gem) been enjoying her writings on the spiritual journey.
Along with some of the other greats like Jean Pierre de Caussade, Evelyn knew the importance of the Sacrament of the Present Moment.
“God is always coming to you in the Sacrament of the Present Moment. Meet and receive Him there with gratitude in that sacrament.” (Evelyn Underhill)
Lately, inspired by the Holy Spirit, as well as by Evelyn, I’ve been talking a lot about love and the present moment. I think it’s the Spirit’s persistent way of refocusing me on what is central.
These days there are many reasons to feel either anxious and fearful, or distracted and checked out. I have never felt more inundated with contentious, divisive and anxiety-producing rhetoric. The information age is not treating us well.
Yes, there is much to “do” in response to what is going on culturally. But I also believe there is much to “be.”
The world needs our grace-filled, wise, discerning and loving presence now more than ever.
Love and presence may seem a bit lightweight for some. Some imagine they are about flitting about in a field of daisies. But I see them both as solid, weighty, life-giving, and necessary.
The invitation to true love and real presence is not simplistic, but is at the core of any response we undertake.
Let’s turn to what Jesus called the most important commandment:
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)
I, like you, have heard these verses hundreds, if not thousands, of times. And because this is so, their priority can be dimmed by sheer repetition.
So it’s good to circle back and pause. What if instead of taking this truth for granted, we lean into it even more fully. What does a life built on this truth look like…feel like?
- Love God
- Love myself
- Love others
This is a life-giving flow. We love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). We love God because of God’s love for us. Receiving God’s love, we then extend it to others (love your neighbor as yourself).
Presence is necessary because each of these loves is experienced in the present moment. As Evelyn said, “God is always coming to you in the present moment.”
Practicing presence is far from lightweight. It is actually quite difficult because our brains want to rehearse the past or project into the future. But right here and right now is where love is experienced and embraced.
Is your confidence in the centrality of love and presence growing? I hope so. Let’s reflect together for a moment…
Check in with yourself by asking a few questions:
- How aware am I of God loving me in this moment?
- How might that inform my love for myself right now?
- How would this overflow into how I treat others around me?
Love and presence are solid, foundational and necessary. Return to the center and find your heart encouraged.