I did something incredibly stupid this morning!
I woke at about 6am. As I opened my eyes it dawned on me that I was not in my bed at home but, I was at The Hayes, Swanwick, Derbyshire. I was on the Retreat Association Conference. Then my first real conscious thought of the day – Tea! I know it was my first real thought because, it is the same thought every day for as long as I can remember.
I climbed out of bed. Stretched. Put on the light and found the kettle. Whilst the water came to the boil, I went into the bathroom and washed my face with cold water to make sure I was fully awake. I looked out of the window to check my car was still where I left it. I then spotted the conference pack. It was brimming with information. I began to look at the programme selecting what I was going to do, what main speakers did I want to hear? What about the workshops? Had that e-mail I was expecting come in yet? What was happening at home? Was it too early to ring the family and make sure all was well? Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I heard the kettle come to the boil and the tell-tale click told me the water was ready.
It was then it happened.
I grabbed the packet that contained the tea bag. Ripped off the top and promptly threw the unused bag into the bin. I poured water into the mug. I couldn’t believe what I had just done, “you idiot!” I said, with some force whilst trying not to wake up the other delegates.
Why did I do such a thing?
No doubt, the less charitable of my readers, will dismiss it as an age thing! The more charitable will say I was distracted, too much going on in my mind, not concentrating. I am on a retreat, surely, nothing should be going on in my mind! It happened because I was distracted, I was so busy making my plans for the future, I was not living in the present moment. Jesus once said some interesting words;
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Matthew 6 vs. 34)
I have known Christians who have taken this view to the extreme. They see those occasions when we worry about the natural worries of life, as being a sin. Almost as if somebody says “I am worried about what the doctor will say”, they respond “you must not worry or you will be sinning”. I am not sure, that is what Jesus actually meant.
I believe that Jesus knew how many things can fill the human mind, distract us,and I also believe He empathizes with our natural worries and concerns. But, what I think concerned Him was, how worry can stop us living in the present moment. In the previous verse Jesus told us to seek the Kingdom of God and that is written in the present tense.
To try and put this in a different way, I read again that familiar story of Martha and Mary (Luke 10 vs, 38 – 42). Jesus and His disciples are at the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Mary sits at Jesus feet. Martha does all the work and so she approaches Jesus to complain. Jesus says;
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things”
(Luke 10 vs. 41 – NRSV)
Jesus then commends Mary. It wasn’t that Mary was doing nothing, she was simply living in the present moment and that is what I needed to do.
I found a fresh tea bag (I did not get the one out of the bin). Brewed my refreshing cup. Spent some time with God and then I was ready for what lay ahead.