Rector’s Letter April 2019
A Letter – Can we practise living in the present moment?
It seems like a lifetime ago that I lived and trained and for a period worked in London. Isleworth, Chelsea (Yes, I know I’m posh!!) and Stoke Newington were the areas I lived in. One thing I saw often in London was tourists taking ‘selfies’. But (I know I’ll sound like a dinosaur) aren’t we obsessed by this form of photograph? It’s almost like going to a concert and seeing people watch nearly the whole thing through the lens of their camera. I think one of the dangers today is we live life through modern media without sometimes living in the ‘real’ world. Last week my family and I chose photos for my mum’s funeral order of service. The photos brought back memories and emotions but today ‘selfies’ and social media at its worse replace lovely holidays. It replaces experiencing a great concert or meal or sunset. As we head towards summer I’m trying to challenge all of us to experience our various relationships. Our relationships with each other; our experience of nature and creation; the wonder of music and meals etc. Jesus lived the whole of His life in the present moment. Jesus sometimes needed to step away for times of quiet and prayer but that withdrawing was so that Jesus could wholeheartedly experience the present moment. When looking at ‘selfies’ on the web there was one page where people were so obsessed about living through the lens that they didn’t see something that caused their death or a serious accident. People stepped out into a busy street or had a serious fall etc. My challenge for all of us in this coming month is to live in the present moment. Let’s be aware of God’s blessing and the wonder of creation around us. Gerald Manley Hopkins, the Jesuit poet, spoke of Jesus playing in a thousand places if only we were aware of our world and daily lives. To be a Christian today we need to be aware of all that is present every day – positive and negative. To be a Christian today we need to offer the glories of the world back to God. We need to give attention and reverence to all people we meet each day. This living in the present moment is very difficult and we can slip into day dreaming or fantasy etc, none of which are bad in themselves until we try to live our fantasy etc as our own reality. To be Christian is to be people who humbly say ‘Amen!!’ each day, saying ‘yes’ to God or ‘let it be as you wish’. So, maybe we need less ‘selfies’ and more ‘self awareness’. Let us live in the present moment and look how we can develop and grow our relationships. Finally, ‘selfies’ aren’t something new; i found the following on the net:
“As a result of intensive scholarly research on Wikipedia I discovered that the first known selfie was a daguerreotype taken in 1839 and now on the photographer’s tombstone. Lacking a smartphone, he would remove the lens cap, run into shot and stay still for a minute or two, before running back to cover the lens again. A more contemplative selfie. Artists have always liked to paint themselves and mirrors have been around since 6000 BC. We love to see ourselves even when we don’t like what we see.”
May we see in ourselves the beloved Children of God. Not perfect but beloved.
With Kind Regards and every prayer.
Rev’d Stephen Monk
(Rector Darley Dale, South Darley & Winster.)