Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Land of Nowhere

Where do you live?
I'm not talking about where your mail is delivered, where you eat dinner or where you sleep at night. I'm talking about the place where your heart, dreams and imagination live at each moment of the day. I suspect that if you are like most people, there is really no one place but rather a moving target of places, tragically few of them where you are at any given moment. If you are like most people, you live in The Land of Nowhere.
Most of us are rarely fully present in the moment, in the here, in the now. When things are not going well we cast our eye toward a time when things will be better -- or harken back to a time when things were. In the good times we quickly move towards wondering what will be next, how the goodness of now might become greatness to come -- or we cling in fear that the goodness of now might vanish in the days that follow, as it has in the past. And so we miss the fullness of the now, the time we are in; preoccupied with land of the past and land of the yet to come, not really present, living in The Land of Nowhere.
I am in the midst of a particularly difficult couple of months of surgery and radiation, replete with side effects that include painful sores throughout my mouth and throat, difficulty eating and talking, lack of mental clarity, and a general drug-induced fuzziness. It would be natural for me to want to be done with it all, to be on the other side. And I do (as of this morning, I have completed 21 of 30 treatments)! I cannot wait to be done. At the same time, I have to wait. But, if it is only a waiting season, how much will I miss while camped in that waiting.
I don't want to just "get to the other side." I don't want to lose these three months of living in the now because my focus is only on the goodness that I expect when I am through the now. I don't want to miss the uniqueness of this time. In the midst of pain, there has been wonderful sweetness and grace. I have experienced an increased empathy for people in difficult times, a special sweetness in my times with God, an amazing prayer life and the revelation of how short I can be with others when I am in pain -- how pain highlights my already existent selfishness and how God wants to refine that. These experiences and revelations among so many others are gifts of God only realized as I choose to live not in The Land of Nowhere, but in The Land of NowHere.
God's plan is for each of us to live in The Land of NowHere, to be fully present in the moments he gives us as we live the moments of our lives with him. It is only with such an intention to the NowHere that we can live the life that Jesus envisioned; a life without worry, a life without anxiousness about anything, a Kingdom life, fearless as we dare to fully live it, moving into the future with a dependence on God in the present. Jesus said that this Kingdom life requires the characteristics of childhood. Perhaps it is because children live in The Land of NowHere. Brennan Manning in his book Ruthless Trust, writes:
 Almost all children are born with a natural inclination toward contemplation -- toward long, loving looks at the Real -- and a tendency to moments of thoughtful silence. A simple thing may absorb children for a long time. Wriggling their toes, for example, is such an engrossing experience that it is difficult to divert their attention to something else. However, their gift starts to wither when we insist, "Hurry up, I don't have all day."
None of us is guaranteed a tomorrow; by God's grace you will have one. Instead of "hurry up, I don't have all day," perhaps we should say, "slow down, I may not have tomorrow." As it is, we hurry through the now to get to what's next and in the process we miss the joy and the grace of the moment.
There are a thousand yesterdays and a thousand tomorrows, but there is only one now. It is only in The Land of NowHere that we can really meet God. It is only in The Land of NowHere where we can truly live.

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