Have you heard people talking about “mindfulness”? It seems to be a newly popular phrase for paying attention. We are so often trying to do multiple things at once, or doing one thing while thinking about another, that we miss being present in our own lives! The movie ends, and you realize that you missed the resolution because your mind got distracted. Or someone is talking and you suddenly realize you don’t know what they’ve said; you were distracted.
I heard a tale of a talented and prized bloodhound in England that started a hunt by chasing a full-grown male deer, a desirable trophy for the hunter. During the chase a fox crossed his path, so he began to chase the fox. Then a rabbit crossed his path, so he began trailing the rabbit, until after a while, a tiny field mouse crossed his path. He chased the mouse into the corner of a farmer’s barn. The bloodhound had begun the hunt chasing a deer for his master, and wound up barking at a tiny mouse. He was distracted.
For many people these days, “multitasking” is much more a part of daily life than “mindfulness” is. We live at a time when communication is instant, and so we feel pressure to respond instantly. We live with so much knowledge available at our fingertips, we feel we must be current in all events. We can even begin to mistake motion for accomplishment; we feel busy, so we think we must be getting a lot done. But too often we are missing important parts of our own lives because we are too busy, too distracted, to pay attention: we are distracted by the commotion of the world around us.
Matthew 10:38-39, and in fact even a much larger reading from that chapter, remind us that Jesus calls us to follow him: to keep our mind on him and let go the world’s call to other things. Jesus invites us to lay down the burdens we think we have to carry and take on his yoke instead (read Matthew 11:25-30). And he promises he will not leave us on our own: Matthew 28:20, and many other quotations.
How can we know that? How can we feel that? How can we help ourselves and each other to be mindful and attentive to his presence (so we don’t go the way of the bloodhound)?
Relationship with him and with each other. He inaugurated the Feast of the Table. Not a book, not a constitution for an institution, not rhetoric and resolution, not dogma and doctrine, but a fellowship of the table. He is the host; He is the nourishment in the bread and wine; he is the center and the connection, each of us with him and each with one another. He is present.
It is the essence of the church. It is fellowship, friendship, relationship and reconciliation. It is a gathering of believers connected and bound together in the covenant and community of Jesus Christ.
How distracted by foxes and mice in the world does one have to be that they miss the trophy of gathering in Christ’s presence at church this week?