THE STORYBOARD CALLED LIFE

Presence

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The first year of my relationship (actually we weren’t “officially” dating yet so I guess our year of courtship) was long distance. Not JUST long distance. But long distance on steroids. I was only in Melbourne and he was in Sydney. But I was serving as a full time missionary on NET Ministries Australia. One of the beauties (and crosses) of being on team with NET was that we surrendered our phones and other communication methods (including social media) for a majority of the year. We had the opportunity to communicate with friends and family only during communication or “comm-blocks”, which was on our day off and for a few hours on another day. It was tough, but it had a certain beauty.

I think the spirit behind the rule is that we were being asked to be present where we were. To our team. To the people we ministered to, which wasn’t exclusive to young, Catholic people. In hindsight it is actually pretty revolutionary not to be distracted by phones and social media in this day and age. Although physically we are in one place, we are really in all different places at once. Sometimes it’s what we need to do e.g. last week I was in Fraser Island on holiday, but during one of the mornings I had to phone in to an important work meeting (with a tribunal, it had the mechanics of a preliminary court hearing so I was pretty intimidated because I’m an accountant, not a lawyer!) and spent an hour after that studying for a test I had in a few days. Although I was physically present beside the pool, my presence was more in work and study. Another example is, my boyfriend was next to me while I was studying and when I finished, I had a splash in the pool and took a few photos. He didn’t realise that I had even gotten up from my seat until he saw the photo I posted on social media. He was present with his Pokemon.

Anyway, the reason for our trip was that my sister on team got married in Hervey Bay. Another one of my girlfriends got married in Santorini last year and because I wasn’t making money during my year of mission, I wasn’t able to go. More than being disappointed that I couldn’t travel, I was devo that I couldn’t be there to celebrate this beautiful occasion. So I started thinking “Why is presence so important?” 

When momentous events happen, we want to be present for the ones we love. When we have a bad day, we want (or I do anyway) hugs from people I love (NET has made me a hugger AND an extrovert. Dangit NET). When you get stood up, it’s not a nice feeling. Seeing a band on youtube isn’t the same as seeing them live. Bringing millions of young people together in for World Youth Day has a crazy dynamic feeling compared to a hang out with 10 youth. When we’re away from people we love, it sucks.

Presence changes things.

So again. “Why is presence so important?” 

We are physical beings

We are created with physical bodies, not just minds or spirits. We are meant to experience the physical world with our physical bodies. Why else would God give us the ability to see, hear, touch, smell, taste? (Tangent, isn’t it crazy that we experience these sensations differently? Some people like certain tastes while others don’t, people perceive colours differently. Too cool). (Tangent 2: Although we have the ability to do and experience so many things, doesn’t make all those things good for us e.g. it isn’t good for us to walk barefoot on glass shards or experience being yelled at with derogatory terms).

We are physically made to be present. Further, with our emotional and intellectual capacities, we have the ability to be present in these ways too.

Humans are social beings

This isn’t just the extrovert in me saying this. Even introverts are made to be with people. As social creatures, we need contact. Our physical bodies are meant to interact with other physical bodies. Infants are born unable to fend for themselves. For people to reproduce, we physically have to touch each other. Physical touch with other beings has an effect on our bodies. I’m no scientist, but oxytocin is a chemical or hormone that is produced when giving birth, when people have sex, when mother breastfeed and when people interact. Apparently, if you have had a positive social interaction, you produce oxytocin, which can speed up the healing of a wound. Not all physical interactions are positive, but they do have an effect on us. There are studies showing that the quality and quantity of your social interactions affects your physical health. Isolation from other humans is harmful (Gen 2:18) – some studies show people with less than six regular contacts outside the house had significantly higher chances of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and depression.

 

Clearly, it is important for humans to be present to other people and to have other people present to them.

The presence of God

Isn’t it so smart of God then to allow us to experience His physical presence on earth? Not just a long-distance relationship with Him. To behold. To be nourished by.

Let’s try to be present today. Peace x

Amor Dei

*****

Edit: 17/07/2016 Fr Paul Monkerud, “Before we do things for people, let’s engage with them. Before we do things for God, let’s be present with Him.”

 

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Written by Candice

July 13, 2016 at 5:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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