Today there was a fantastic conference for lay people and clergy organised by the Church of England, Birmingham. It’s the second one, my main memory of the first one is tripping over on the way to the podium and sprawling on the floor in front of 1,000 people – and right in front of two Bishops.
I didn’t go to this one. I was meant to be there and I wanted to be there but on Friday night I decided I needed to be at home and ‘in the room.’
My youngest son neeeded me around to explore the sadness he was feeling a few days after the death of his Godmother, my elder son needed help writing a personal statement for sixth-form college and my daughter needed me to help prepare for a fundraising lunch tomorrow . (Thankfully that sentence has just reminded me that I need to take her brownies out of the oven.) And I needed to be in the room for my own sake too, after last weekend at college and a busy week at work I needed to be home with my own emotions, not distracted by even really good talks and Bible studies.
As a smart phone and meeting addict (a lethal cocktail) I realise I am rarely in the room. I go to so many meetings that I know if I do not reply to e-mails coming to my phone the moment they arrive, I might well never get to them or it might be a week until I sit at my computer. So I will quickly bang out an answer on my phone while half-participating with what is happening in the room. Looking at that written down it is obvious that that’s a recipe for disappointment.
Facebook seems to offer to take us out of the room too. This morning I was offered the chance to watch a grieving husband sing to his dying child or read another post about a father losing a son in hospital. I am not sure how and why these deeply personal moments of grief have become entertainment for millions and if they actually make us less sensitive to the pain that is tangible, the pain that we can respond to, the pain that is in the room.
This week’s Bible readings notes that we use at home have been on children in the Bible. The writer concludes that Jesus said little about parenting or how to be adults around children but more about the virtues and importance of children themselves. Perhaps one of the things we need to learn, to become like children (meaning a person too young to have a mobile device of any kind) who will see the kingdom of heaven, is to be focussed on the thing in front of us, to live in the present moment and to react to the real things around us.
Yesterday I attended a local mosque for Friday prayers. The Khutbah (sermon) was about remembering God. Not just five times a day at prayers (tho’ that sounds good to me) but with every step – and particularly when you are thinking of sinnning! Practicing the presence of God, is something I am only just starting to explore. Any tips for remembering God with every step, being, staying and living in the room with God, would be more than welcome.
Or to quote the Psalmist:
“One thing I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
and to inquire in his temple”
Psalm 27 v 4.