Jesus invites us today to consider the lilies of the field and to learn from and wonder at their beauty.
Do you ever feel full up or even over-full? Lately, I’ve been reminded of the person who traveled to the top of a mountain to learn from the master. Upon meeting the master, the seeker bombarded him with questions. Finally, the master suggested tea and once it was made, began to slowly pour it into the cup. However, rather than stopping when the cup was full, the master continued pouring, until both cup and saucer overflowed and tea began spilling on the floor. The seeker cried out “Stop, stop! Don’t you see there isn’t any more room?” To which the master replied, “Yes, it is just like this with you. You are too full to receive anymore as well. Go back, empty your cup, and then come once you have created a little space in yourself.”
There are certainly times in life when it is easy to identify with the brimming-over cup. Life can be very full with work, parents, children, church, community – to name a few big ones. Sometimes the sense of full is of challenging things like illness or grief or job loss. At other times, the fullness can be of wonderful things like celebrations, sporting events or planning a vacation. Most of the time I find an interesting blend of fullness. This week, for example, holds two funerals, doing makeup for (and watching!) the middle school play and parent-teacher conferences—among other things.
This experience of fullness is how many people today live—it seems to be a chronic condition. Sometimes we seem to pride ourselves on how busy we are, in spite of all the time-saving devices in our lives. And yet, it is important that we find ways to appropriately release the fullness on a regular basis; operating at overfull doesn’t work well for very long. Ultimately, we have to find ways to make room again—and there are whole industries claiming to help us do just that. Personally, I’ve found a few ways that help me to release a bit when I’m overfull: prayer and meditation, running, yoga, sleep, taking a walk and being attentive to my breathing.
Another way I have discovered helps me to release the sense of overfull seems counter-intuitive. It is to be fully in the present moment, not anticipating the future, nor reinventing in the past. Some call this the practice of mindfulness, being fully present only to what is currently in my view/sensations and letting go of everything else. Easy to say, not so easy to do, which is captured in the drawing I came across once which depicts the difference between the way I suspect Howie sees things and the way I do!
Brother James Koester, from the Society of St John the Evangelist, wrote a sermon challenging us to live in the now, not wishing our life away, but recognizing that today is the only day there is to live:
…Jesus invites us today to consider the lilies of the field and to learn from and wonder at their beauty. He invites us to look at the birds and to ponder the grass. He invites us to live in the moment, for this moment, this minute, this instant is the only time that it truly ours. And it is only in this instant that we can heal the past and shape the future by living in the present….today tell someone that you love them; ask someone to forgive you, say I am sorry and above all say thank you. For in those simple acts, you will find wisdom.
May we find the wisdom to be fully present in the now, cherishing each moment—for life goes too quickly as it is. May we find ways to release when overfull, to sip from the saucer when needed and to support each other in soaking up this one precious life that is ours.
Hope to see you Sunday!