Human beings, not doings

By Father Joseph Breighner
It’s easy for most of us to simply take life for granted. We are. Life is. We often miss the miracle of simply being.
Recently a kind man at Oak Crest gave me a copy of an old “Devotional.” The little prayer book had a 1941 copyright; it makes me happy to see things older than me.
In this little booklet were various prayers and meditations. I’d like to quote a few verses from some poems that inspired me:
     “This day, Lord, is Thy gift of grace,
      Wherein I may discern Thy face.
      The sunbeams quivering on a tree
      Reveal thy constant care for me;
      This glad, green earth, the blue above,
      May tell the wonders of Thy love.
      But of, dear Lord, lest blind my eyes
      Should grow to Thy wide-lifting skies,
      To all Thy gifts of earth and sea,
      Lord keep Thy loving hand on me;
      Lest as I journey on my way
      I miss the glories of each day!”
The month of April is a good month to notice the beauty all around us. Typically we celebrate Easter during this month (obviously not this year). The world comes back to life in April. As the verse from an ancient hymn goes: “From the death of the winter arising.” It’s an appropriate month to celebrate our Lord arising from the dead.
But any time is a good time to find the beauty in the present moment, in the now. You may recall the reading during Lent from the Book of Exodus, when God reveals his name to Moses. God identifies himself as “I Am.” Someone wrote a wonderful meditation on that passage. It has God speaking: “My name is I Am. When you live in the past with its losses and regrets, life is hard. My name is not I Was. And when you live in the future with its fears and worries, life is hard. My name is not I Will Be. But when you live in the present moment, life is not as hard. My name is I Am. And I am with you all days even until the end of time.”
Each moment is an unrepeatable event. We don’t want to miss the miracle of the now.
That same devotional booklet included a shorter poem:
     “I know there are heartaches,
      A world full of strife,
      But thank God, O thank God,
      Thank God just for life!” 
Think of the miracle of just being conscious. Think of the miracle of coming into existence. Think of all the millions of chemical reactions going on in our bodies every moment. Think of the miracles of being able to walk, to talk, to see, to hear, to love and more. We often acknowledge the miracles only after we lose them.
While we can grow less able, we never grow less valuable.
Yes, as I write this, I am also preaching to myself. It’s just as easy for me to get caught up in deadlines and duties that I forget the miracle of the present moment as well. But we always need to remember that we are not “human doings,” we are human beings.
And the best part? Knowing that it only gets better. Our lives, as we know them, will end. This miracle of existence will end only to reveal another miracle of existence. As the prayer says: “Life is changed not ended!” If the present life can be so beautiful, how much more beautiful must be eternity.
But, again, let’s not miss the miracle of the now while waiting for the miracle of eternity. Both are miracles. Here God lives with us in flesh and blood. Then we will live with God in spirit and light.
To read more columns by Father Breighner, click here.

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.