The cost of presence is absence. To want to be everywhere at once, is to want to be God. Yet in this nomadic life I often mourn my limitation to one place, one body. I have felt this price keenly since coming back from furlough as friends and loved ones struggle. We dive into what’s here and now, then the realities of the not-here and already-past are all the more jarring. For someone who prefers to be the shoulder to cry on, for all my flowery words I know them to be empty in times of deep grief and unspeakable turmoil. I often find myself wishing I was just there. But there is not here, and I am paying that price.
The question is always, where to be present. This is a question of balance. Remain too long in one place and the scale tips. Remain within your own thoughts and mind and your actions turn inward as well. Drain yourself in giving your life and resources and your dearest relationships suffer. When I’m reading to my kids at home, I’m not with my neighbors in the village. When we’re in Uganda, we’re not in San Diego. I’ve seen a growing depth in my relationships with Ugandans since coming back from furlough, but that has come at the cost of not being present with dear ones in the US as they struggle with grief, sickness and broken relationships. We’re constantly praying and working for the growth and maturity of believers here, but that means that we aren’t present at our home church as it grapples with change. Both are good in their right place. Yearn too long to be where you are not and even that place will lose its reality. To be content with where you are takes surrendering to its limitations, its flaws.
The gift of presence, do you know it? Have you felt it? When you’re with someone and you set aside your phones, set aside your plans for tomorrow, or the countless possible solutions to the present nagging problems, let go of the what-ifs and not-here’s and simply listen. Simply absorb the beauty of the moment. Be here, and nowhere else.
Thankfully, even limited, you are never alone.
In these strangest of corona times, our routine has been altered and even our instincts re-thought. The most confident among us must admit that we truly know nothing. If we’re honest, we all have days when we flounder between approaches or desires or lack of self-control. We all long for corona to be history. But today is the day the Lord has for us, right where you are. May you be still and know that He is God. Be present with the presence that is Life.
I feel like a coin caught in an eternal toss
Windswept and undecided
Which side is love?
Love has more sides than two
More sides than a prism
Enraptured by our own view
It’s too easy to forget it is not the side
But the light