I know today is Epiphany, but I still can’t put down my Advent readings. There’s just too much to digest on each page. In fact, I keep going back to a quote early on in chapter two of The Sacrament of the Present Moment.
It is Jean-Pierre de Caussade’s definition of the present moment that captures my attention. Spiritual mentor De Caussade states: “The present moment is like a desert in which simple souls see and rejoice only in God, being solely concerned to do what he asks of them. All the rest is left behind, forgotten and surrendered to him.”
Seriously, Jean-Pierre? That may bode well for 18th century clustered nuns in Nancy, France, but my immediate response in regard to my contemporary life is, “ridiculous!”
I can relate to the “simple soul” attribute, but rejoice only in God? That is hard to fathom.
And why does God keep putting that word, rejoice, in front of me, anyways?
Also hard to swallow is: all the rest is left behind, forgotten and surrendered to him.
Ah, tell that to the Mom who is praying over a sick one year old through 30 minute interval vomiting.
What about the homeless Dad trying to be a spiritual leader to his eight year old son while they sleep at whatever church will have them for the week?
And the kicker in the center of the teaching: being solely concerned to do what he (God) asks of them.
Heap that on top of life and all its stressors.
But what if our sole concerns morphed into soul concerns?
(Spiritual director De Caussade was in the business of soul care, after all.)
Perhaps that’s how we navigate this piece of spiritual direction. That’s how we make it through; how the miserable moments become sacramental, a visible means of grace according to Webster. To be solely concerned is to be concerned with souls. Being attentive in the present moment to the person in front of us, a sacrament extended.
Our sole concern for soul concerns gives our well-meaning, inadequate attempts to maintain focus on God holy value and sacred purpose.
Soley concerned for soul concerns is how Jesus lived. That’s what he taught others to do and what he desires from us.
Jesus said, “Whatever you did for the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did for me.”
Maybe we’re all a little more sacramental than we thought.
Maybe this way of being that De Caussade prescribes is not so incredulous after all.