Present company…

In the world of the Enneagram, I’m a 7. (For those unfamiliar with this insightful tool, a great introduction is the book “The Road Back to You” by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile). What you need to know this means for my personality is that I’m a planner.

No, that’s not quite right.

I’m an obsessive planner. I will spend hours planning what the coming days and weeks will look like, from the work that will be accomplished to the gifts I will give family members over the next several years. Meals? Menus and shopping lists are forever being revised in my head. Even crop rotations for my ten acres on Tug Hill (yes, I’m serious).

Like other 7s, I can’t understand how those without this tendency function. For years I asked my spouse what his plans were for the weekend because I assumed he had spent just as much time working through all the possibilities when Bill (definitely NOT a 7) was instead spending his time enjoying the present.

You can imagine how this weird tendency to continually plan has impacted my ability to honor my commitment to “…need to learn the song of the tribe in order to sing the song of the tribe…” in this new Calling. I’m working on several different strategic maneuvers for this Presbytery in my brain when my covenant with the good people of Cayuga-Syracuse is to learn to sing the song of the tribe first.

I’ve promised to be present in part so this isn’t about me… but it is about “us”. There is an incredible bonus to this – I’ve learned that when I am truly present, I taste the incredible meal that I’m sharing with Seniors at one church and I see the light shining through the colorful windows at another. I hear (and feel!) the deep concern of members who wonder and worry about what will happen to the church they’ve cared so deeply for, and I delight in the joy of children praying for a member of their cohort who has just received his first Bible. I know that our God has been with me in the past, and I trust that our God will be with us in the future… but when I challenge myself to be present I know that God is with me now, and I know that that is more than enough.

Sometimes congregations seem stuck between living in the past and fearing what will happen in the future. As leadership meets to discuss what happened last month, and what needs to be done in the months to come, I wonder what would happen if we really took the time to be present in the moment? If we offered more than a perfunctory prayer, but instead chose to set aside time to abide in the abundant grace of God? Or, instead of huddling during coffee hour with like-minded folk to discuss the current state of affairs, what would happen if we relished this common time together? What would happen if we took time each day to be fully present to one another and the workings of the Spirit and focused on the holy work of “abiding”?

As for this obsessive planner… I’m working on it, just as surely as God continues to work on me. Just don’t ask me about my list of knitting projects.

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