Present – October 2020 Update

I’m joining Honoré at Morning Glory Studio and writing about my One Little Word – Present (click here to view all of my posts on this topic this year). Today I’m sharing a poem and a prayer that arrived in my life in their own perfect moments.

I shared this Wendell Berry poem just a few weeks ago, on October 11. The prayer was from the 12th, the next morning. Talk about an epiphany! Here are the two short passages:

Whatever happens,
those who have learned
to love one another
have made their way
into the lasting world
and will not leave,
whatever happens.

This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems, Wendell Berry

May we find our foundation
in the work of Love;
demanding, tiring,
true and human and holy.
Because Love is the only foundation
worth building on.

Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community by Pádraig Ó Tuama, page 20

Wasn’t the timing of those two passages perfect? And it reminded me of something that I read in all about love by bell hooks a few years ago:

The word “love” is most often defined as a noun, yet all the more astute theorists of love acknowledge that we would all love better if we used it as a verb.
all about love by bell hooks

(You can read a larger chunk of the chapter on The Dewdrop.)

hooks writes that love is an action, never simply a feeling. When you love someone, you do your best to meet their physical and emotional needs. And as Pádraig Ó Tuama says, that can be demanding, tiring, true and human and holy. For me, there’s an emphasis on demanding and tiring. I’m sure many of you can relate or imagine – there is always someone needing something in my home, especially with three little ones lined up. And all of us – with or without children in our homes – have compelling demands in our lives.

But all that work sets the foundation of love. And if I teach my family to love one another, real love, love that is unconditional, about connection, and built upon genuine friendship and respect, then we will have truly learned to love each other.

If I want to teach love, then I must be present. I must be able to think in the difficult moments with my children, to carefully respond to my husband when he does something that frustrates me, to take a breath when I want to throw everything into the trashcan because I can’t keep things put away (which happens more often than I’d like to admit). I must remember that I want my home to be a foundation of love. That a home of love is one to be proud of, even if it’s simple and sparse in so many other ways. A home of love – an action-based version of love – sets the stage for how we interact with and treat others outside of the home.

And if I want my home to be a foundation of love, I have to remember that begins with my own actions. The way I respond to everything matters. The efforts I make to connect with the people in my home, to support them, to provide a comfortable and cozy home — it all matters. Every action I make is an example.

All of this requires the skill of being present.

There’s not a quick and easy way to snap my fingers and learn to be present during difficult moments. It’s doing this, spending time reading the words of wise people from all walks of life, giving the words time to settle into the cracks of my day, and finding the connections that make sense in my own little world. And learning to welcome lots and lots of difficult moments in my own life in order to practice – without those moments, I can’t learn to be present. There are no shortcuts.

These monthly linkups have been invaluable this year. They’ve given me a soft deadline that have gently nudged me to stop and think about how my word of the year is showing up for me time and again. So thank you! I can’t wait to visit you all and see how your own words are showing up in your lives.

(PS – It feels like we just published our September posts last week… where did October go?!)


12 thoughts on “Present – October 2020 Update

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  1. I have only one child in my house, and I know how difficult it can be to be present, especially when you’re trying to do three things at once. I think your choice of word for this year was excellent because it’s really getting you to look at your life as a whole, not just in the small moments. I know that you’re a great mother to your kids because you have such a strong commitment to showing them your love and to reflect on how you’re doing it every day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “…learning to welcome lots and lots of difficult moments in my own life in order to practice – “ This is so wise…and seems to be the meaning in so many of our days. Our children witness the process of our work, the practice…not the product. (But I think I end up trashing—well, donating— a LOT of the stuff I keep, literally, tripping on. I wonder what it would look like to practice trashing some of the things I emotionally trip on? Surely some of it can go.)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. There is so much in this post, Katie! Life is demanding and tiring… so brilliant. And such perspective! I have had Padraig’s book on my wish list, but I am getting it today! Thank you for sharing this beautiful way your word is showing up for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. …that Wendell Berry book is going in my cart today! (I have Timbered Choir it’s a favorite … clearly that book needs a partner) Your post really resonates with me – an empty nester with few demands. and it’s so timely as we head into a holiday season that’s going to challenge us (me!) to be present in lots of ways. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wendell Berry is perfect. I just love him. The holidays are going to be so hard — we usually have very small gatherings to begin with, so it’s hard to feel like we’re excluding others. For instance, my sister in law usually spends Thanksgiving with us AND she lost her husband just over a year ago. How can we not have her over?! It’s so hard.

      Liked by 1 person

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