Simple pleasures

I look forward to the summer. For me it’s a time to unwind, relax, enjoy the warm weather and do a lot of thinking. I am up early each morning, especially when the sun is shining. I make some coffee and go out in the yard. I look to the sky and thank God for the day He has given me and the family and the world I get to share it with. I look all around me and watch nature unfold before my eyes. Then, I walk to my garden. I stand there in awe looking at what was once bare ground, and now it is full of life. I thank God for these simple things, and in these simple things I find God. 

I think that the reason why many people can’t find God in the ordinary day of their ordinary lives is because they don’t make themselves present to God. This makes it hard to appreciate the beauty of the simple pleasures that life has to offer. So, how do you become present to God and how do you maintain that presence?

Sadly, I’ve known many people who have distanced themselves from God. Not because of wanting to, but mostly because they are ashamed of something they’ve said or done and believe God will frown upon them. Nonsense! Don’t run away from God, run to Him. This is becoming present. Think of that one person in your life who loves you the most, unconditionally. God’s love for you is infinitely greater. And for that reason God will forgive you, no matter what. Life’s simple pleasures are more fully enjoyed, and appreciated, when our hearts are not heavy and our very lives not burdened with so much clutter. There simply isn’t room for God in our lives when we are preoccupied with so much stuff. Let it go and let God in. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). 

What is this “rest” that the Lord talks about? I’m sure there are many ways you can interpret that, but the one that stands out for me is the rest He gives me at His banquet table at Mass. That’s where I start to make myself present to Him. But Jesus wants so much more than just our attendance at Mass. He wants our very presence just as He is truly present. 

So, once you make yourself present, how do you maintain that presence? First of all, are you relaxed? If not, take a walk outside and let the gentle warmth of the sun touch your face. It always relaxes me! It assures me that God is there! To be truly present you have to be calm. Your presence should show an air of simple elegance and refinement in your attitude and form. You should always appear to be physically, emotionally and Spiritually strong, yet, you still have greater strength in reserve. When you feel happy, you smile. When you feel generous, you give. When you give your word, you keep it. 

Maintaining your presence means you are deliberate. Everything you say and do is with confidence. You feel assured and alert. You keep your head up and your shoulders back. Your eyes are always looking forward. You breathe deeply assuring yourself that God’s Spirit strengthens you. Every breath has meaning. Every word you speak has conviction. And when you do speak it’s always with a soft voice in a thoughtful manner. You rarely interrupt. You walk with purpose. You don’t rush. You savor every moment because every moment is a gift.

Maintaining your presence allows the things you want drawn to you to come as a result of your good nature and determined persistence. All that is good will be drawn to you and God will be there also.

Sometimes I think that God is the loneliest person in the world. It’s easy to forget Him, but only when we forget to be present. If you’re going away on vacation, take God with you. Go see Jesus at your destination’s parish church. Yes, the same Jesus you thought you left behind back home. He’s there, always one step ahead of us. So enjoy your vacation, relax in the sun or shade and enjoy every simple pleasure.

Every moment is a blessing from God. Take the time to enjoy the simple things you encounter each day. If you can do that you will find God and the wonderful surprises He has for you. And then the phone rings. “Hi dad! Want to play a round of golf?” And this simple and beautiful summer day just got even better. God bless!

Anchor columnist Ozzie Pacheco is Faith Formation director at Santo Christo Parish, Fall River.

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