This week we shall talk about living joyfully in the moment. The present moment is the only place we can choose to have an open and joyful heart. It seems to be our nature to weigh down our hearts with the past and project our minds into the future. Jesus admonished his listeners to forgive, to love, to be merciful, and to give up worry about the future or the past, long before “living in the moment” was an over-used phrase. The joy we are seeking lies within our hearts now. The past cannot be changed. The future is unknown. Letting go of regrets and worries frees our energy to be focused on the infinite potential of the present moment. To make the choice to live joyfully in this moment is true freedom — the freedom to be who we are. May you be able to set down the burdens you’ve been carrying and live joyfully in this moment. As Meister Eckhart said, “There exists only the present instant … a Now which always and without end is itself new. There is no yesterday nor any tomorrow, but only Now, as it was a thousand years ago and as it will be a thousand years hence.” Chose to use your NOW wisely.
Affirmation: I choose to live joyfully in this moment and to let go of all worries.
Matthew 6:25 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Story: THE GIFT OF SOLOMON
Frederick never stayed in one place long because whenever something bad happened, he picked up his pack and left. But before he went, he always found a stone and added it to his pack. He traveled through the country of King Solomon, carrying his pack of stones and leading a mule loaded with another heavy pack. They were resting by a stream when a horse and rider approached. Frederick was unaware that the rider was king of the land, so he did not get up or bow.
King Solomon was known far and wide for his wisdom and courage. People also remarked on his ability to be calm under all circumstances and compassionate to his enemies. He seemed never to carry a grudge from the past and faced each day with fresh enthusiasm. On this day, he was enjoying a ride through the sunny countryside, and he stopped at the stream for a refreshing drink. “Good day to you, young sir! I’m sorry to intrude on this peaceful moment; we want only a drink.” The king dismounted, and he and his horse thirstily drank from the clear stream. Frederick replied, “Help yourself, the stream is here for all! It is peaceful, but the last time I stopped at a stream it was far from peaceful. I’ll tell you about it.” Then Frederick opened his pack and pulled out a stone with marks on it. He began to read the writing on the stone while King Solomon listened. “We were sitting by a lovely little stream when a young deer bounded out of the woods and across the stream. Water splashed all over me and my lunch. Then a crow flew down from the sky and snatched my sandwich in his beak and flew away with it. I was very angry and wet and hungry.” “You recorded your experience on the stone?” the king inquired as he walked up to the pack mule with amazement. “Yes — I always do,” Frederick replied. He pulled another stone out of the pack and read, “‘Today my feet are cold and wet. It has rained all day and I am tired.’ That was awful! My feet actually ache when I read that. And here is another: ‘A mean dog chased me down the path today and I was frightened.’ Whenever I read that one again I have bad dreams.” The king stroked the mule’s soft muzzle and asked, “What of the happy times you must have had on your journeys?” “Oh, I carry those too!” He read another stone: “‘A kind woman fed us a delicious supper.’ I compare every meal I have to that one, and nothing is as good as it was.”
King Solomon looked at Frederick with kind eyes and said, “There are many stones here, it must get to be a heavy load.” Frederick sighed and nodded his head. “I bought the mule so I could carry them all. I thought about writing on paper, but stones cannot be burned or blown away on the wind.” King Solomon considered all the experiences he had had as king and the load he would have to carry if he put them all in stone. He wanted to help Frederick, so he made a proposal. “My young friend, I will lighten your load, and I promise you a great gift if you agree to meet me here again in three months time. I offer you this gold ring in exchange for your packs and your mule. Just look at the ring each time you feel the need to carry another stone.” The king offered his large gold ring and took the reins of the mule from Frederick.
When Frederick saw the royal crest on the ring, he realized this was King Solomon. He knew he could trust the king to keep a promise, and Frederick agreed to the intriguing proposal. As the king took the heavy load away, Frederick felt empty and scared. He had the urge to pick up a stone to carry, but he looked at the ring instead. There was writing on it he hadn’t noticed before. The words were: “This too shall pass.” Frederick traveled the countryside for three months and had many experiences. He twisted his ankle and couldn’t walk for a few days. When he pulled out the ring and read “This too shall pass,” he rested and knew the ankle would heal. He sat on a hilltop and wished the glorious sunset would last forever, but he read the ring and knew he could not make it last by wishing. He was able to travel far and wide without the heavy stones, but he found his way back to the stream when three months were gone.
King Solomon was there waiting for him. Frederick bowed and offered the ring back to the king. “I thank you, sir, for the ring and the wisdom it offered. I have no desire to take back the stones I gave you; I feel free without the burdens from the past. But I am still puzzled. When I am in pain, the thought that, ‘This too shall pass,’ makes my heart glad. When I am happy, the thought, ‘This too shall pass,’ makes my heart sad. Must I always be changing from one to the other like a yo-yo on a string that never stops?” The king replied, “Ah! You are ready for the gift I promised you.” He took a coin from his pouch and handed it to Frederick.
Frederick looked closely at the shiny gold coin. It was very old and worn smooth from the years of rubbing between royal fingers. It also had some writing on it, and he had to look carefully to read the words. “I have only this moment and the choice of how to use it.” Frederick felt the warm sun on his back and heard the happy music of the stream as he bowed and chose to fill the moment with gratitude to the wise king.
Lesson adapted from A JOYFUL PATH: Spiritual Curriculum for Young Hearts and Minds, Year 1 of the Inner Wisdom Series