Presence and Preparation

I have the itch. The longing to be in the mountains at Kanuga, embraced by Rhododendron and hugged by my family. What a gift to have such love in my life. 

The eight or so weeks before Kanuga are a season of preparation. I change the wallpaper on my phone to pictures from that holy place. I create a packing list first in my head and then on paper. I look at the events and to-dos on my calendar for the weeks ahead and count my way through what is special and what is mundane. 

The Liturgical Year of the Episcopal Church has a term for the mundane days – Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time is made up of the weeks between Epiphany and Lent, and the months between Pentecost and Advent. In general, Ordinary Time, sometimes referred to as “Green and Growing Time,” is a chance to dive deep into the teachings and message of Jesus while the seasons of Advent, Lent, Christmas and Easter are dedicated to the preparation for and celebration of the watershed moments in the life of Christ. 

Now that my personal Ordinary Time is slipping into a season of preparation I am presented with the opportunity to practice the delicate balance of living in the present while planning for the future. And when the vacation feast arrives, I am challenged to stay present to the experience without anticipating its end; to relax into a less expectant rhythm. 

I don’t want to be so caught up in preparation that I miss the summer. I don’t want to hold so tightly to the experience of the mountain that I miss its Grace. And I don’t want to be so focused on the day that I disallow the excitement of anticipation. This is perhaps the great wisdom of the seasons, the pearl of the Liturgical Calendar – that the Ordinary permeates the Sacred and the Sacred is alive in the ordinary. All I have to do is adjust my focus.

This summer in the cycle of before, during, and after Kanuga, I am practicing this presence by: leaving the floor un-mopped and going to the pool with Cole; setting aside a day for kayaking on Jordan Lake; making fried green tomatoes and peach pie and sharing them with friends; buying blueberries and sunflowers; going to work, writing, practicing asana, and continuing all the little things I do each day. When I finally arrive at Kanuga I will take a deep breath, savor the air, and try to content myself with the shortness of a week. I will return with pictures on my phone, memories in my bones, and an eagerness to eat less oily food. 

If this sounds too much like a to-do list, it is. Which is ok because I know that soon August will arrive, the light will change, and a new longing will set in – for Autumn days and crisp skies. Some summer to-dos will be checked off the list, some will be left undone. All the while the Ordinary and the Sacred continue dancing in the rhythm of presence and preparation. 

What are you present to? What are you preparing for?

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