A friend told me a story recently. He was attending a day of reflection at a nearby retreat center. The priest who was leading the day was fielding questions from the audience. Many of the questions dealt with the kinds of fears and worries common to all of us these days. Finally, the priest looked at the people gathered and said simply, “Remember, God deals with what is, not with what if.” This lesson hit home for me as I went through a tough stretch. With each crisis I knew I had a choice—I could ask God to walk with me through the difficulty and help me to learn what I could from each painful event. Or I could throw up my hands and ask God why this was happening to me.
I chose to stay in the moment despite the uncertainty of what was happening. I tried to listen and learn from the pain. The unexpected blessing was how focused I became on what was happening right in front of me: what is, instead of what if. To get through a difficult day, I needed to pay attention, to concentrate moment-by-moment. It’s in that gritty moment of real time that we meet God: that I met God.
And while I don’t recommend you invite calamities into your life to help you focus—surely life knows how to serve up calamities all on its own—in every moment you can attempt to be present, even as we long for God to be present. After all, where else could we ever meet God but right here and right now?
This is what Advent is all about, welcoming the God of the Here-and-Now.