A few weeks ago I had supper with a close seminarian friend of mine, Frankie, and we ate supper at Piatti Italian Restaurant & Bar. As we began to enjoy the experience, from our friendly (and highly engaging) waitress, Wende, to the amazing food presented to us with style, Frankie and I launched into a discussion about the nature of food. He remarked that food is something that is intimately part of his ethnic background (Italian) and that the process of cooking food should be, in a sense, analogous to “falling in love.” Time should be spent getting to know the food as you prepare it. That process begins a journey that the more you know the food and understand it, the more you will enjoy cooking it and ultimately you will relish eating what you have prepared (espeically if shared with other people). The whole process, from an idea to the plate, should be enjoyed and not simply rushed through. In our current world of instant gratification and an attitude of busyness, one can easily overlook the depth that is missed in the process of cooking and eat quickly and run to the next thing on the to-do list. So that evening I took a mental step back and allowed myself to just enjoy the meal and friendship and was blessed with a nourishing experience.
That meal has since put an image to a challenge I am facing. I, too, have been occasionally caught up in the attitude of busyness, of “getting through.” I had a heavy academic work load this past year and the year itself was less joyful than it could have been. I “got through” the reading, the homework, the papers, the exams; it was mentally exhausting. Sometimes I forgot to enjoy the moments in life as they came to me. I focused on the end goal of finishing and didn’t always live fully in the present. Near the end of the spring sememster, I went for a walk with Andy (a close seminarian friend) and as we walked around the block talking about nothing in particular, he became fascinated with some ants piling up on the sidewalk. I became fascinated by his fascination. He had stopped our leisurely walk to become engrossed with the beauty of nature around us, something that I was, in the moment, oblivious to. Andy reminded me of something incredibly important in the spiritual life that day: that the beauty of God is always around us and so is His presence, we need only to remind ourselves of this daily so that we can relish the small moments in our days with God who is always present.
This past week I have been living more “in the moment.” I have cooked homemade buffalo wings and last night made homemade dough for pizza while listening to Star Wars on a record player. I also picked up flying a kite to just mentally step back to enjoy this awesome life I have. Granted, it is easier to “live in the moment” when I’m not stressed about upcoming papers or exams and when I’m sitting at home spending quality time with my family, but it’s good practice for when the academics come again (and they will) or when future ministry proves stressful and seemingly overwhelming. It’s these experiences that I will fall back on to remind myself just how close God is during each moment in my life, even amid a stressful and hectic life, which is sure to come.