I don't know how many times I have committed myself to living each day to the fullest...to be to present to every moment. I have broken that commitment as many times as I have made it. I don't grasp the significance of the moment until it has passed. I miss the moment I am in because i am preoccupied with what is around the corner.
Sister Joan writes, "The present of old age, the age we bring to the present, unveils to us the invisibility of meaning. Everything in life is meaningful--once we come to see it, to look for it. Once we really come into the fullness of the present. Then we cease to take life for granted."
It's a paradox that the times when the present is experienced in all its fullness is when time feels suspended--we lose track of time. My friend Albert Borgmann, a philosopher of technology at the University of Montana, talked of the significance of what he called "focal experiences." Focal experiences are, as he put it, "moments of grace where things are properly centered in a way we don't have to unsay them or surpass them at a later moment." Albert speaks of four focal affirmations that are indicative of every focal experience: 1) There is no place I would rather be, 2) There is nothing I would rather be doing. 3) There is no one I would rather be with. 4) This I will remember well.
Those are the moments when the present ceases to be a given and becomes a gift.
There is a wonderful story in Genesis 28 when Jacob awakes from a night of sleep in the wilderness. He is on the run from his brother. Life is precarious. He recalls the dream he had during the night: there was a ladder reaching from the very place where he slept to heaven and beside him stood the Lord saying, "Know that I will be with you." Jacob declares, "Surely the Lord is in this place--and I did not know it."