I had a procedure recently that men of a certain age have.
Everything went well and I am healthy, but something very odd happened after the procedure. My wife, Catherine, tells me that I asked for coffee, but the assistant wanted me to have orange juice. I drank the orange juice and then some coffee. I asked my wife a couple of questions. The doctor came and told me the procedure went well and gave me some instructions. All of that is very standard. That happens with most patients. What might not be as common is that I don’t remember any of it!
I don’t remember the orange juice or the coffee. I don’t remember talking to Catherine or talking to the doctor. At first I thought my wife was kidding me and it was funny. When I realized she was serious it felt very strange to have just done some things that I have no recollection of doing.
It reminds me of what sometimes happens when I drive from Thomson to Augusta in the car. I am driving and thinking or listening to something on the radio and don’t know where on the road I am.
Have I passed the rest stop? Have I gotten to the weigh station? Sometimes I just don’t know. I’ve been preoccupied with other things and the scenery has disappeared, the time has vanished. I must admit I don’t mind that when I’m driving by myself on I-20. It can be a boring drive. If time can disappear while driving on it, I’m glad!
But what if sometimes the same thing happens in other parts of my life? What if I get preoccupied and don’t listen to Catherine or Jack at home during dinner? What if someone comes in the office and I don’t listen carefully to what he or she says? Or, most important, what if God speaks and I am not listening. I believe God still speaks, but I also believe we often don’t listen or can’t listen because we are not mindful.
Mindful; that’s an idea that I have been pondering lately. I think it may be the key to the Christian life.
Mindfulness means that we are focused on something. If you want to lose weight, you must be mindful of what you eat all day long, each and every day. You must be focused on it. You can’t “forget” and buy the potato chips and bring them home. When you go out to eat you must think about where you can eat healthy food. You must bring healthy dressing if you know the restaurant won’t offer it.
This works for the spiritual life also. If we want to become like Jesus, the goal of the spiritual life, we can only do it if we are mindful of God. Unless we keep our focus on God we miss his guidance and drift away from him.
This doesn’t mean we are always on our knees in prayer or always reading the Bible, but we are mindful of his presence and focused on being guided by God throughout the day.
Brother Lawrence, in The Practice of the Presence of God, insisted that, “to be constantly aware of God’s presence, it is necessary to form the habit of continually talking with [God] throughout the day.”
Mindfulness may be the key to any change in our lives. It may help us lose weight, but even more importantly, it may help us know God better and become like Jesus!