On Being Human 7: Presence

BY Doug Jones

April 25, 2013


The night had a bite. That crisp, dry cold that quickly whisks away any moisture (however little) that might be on your lips or nose. The sky was just letting go a fresh, dry, powder snow. Bundled up, I made my nightly walk down to the barn to bring in the horses, feed them evening grain and fresh water, and close up the stable against the winter elements. I finished the evening chores and bundled back up to head back to the house, and the chill seemed to steal my breath as I gasped at the fresh half inch of fresh snow that fell while I was busy in the stable.

Everything looks different with a fresh coating of snow. It seemed I had new eyes as I saw my familiar surroundings that cold winter night. I noticed the silhouettes of the leafless trees outlined in snow against the midnight-blue sky, the stars piercing the darkness of the night, the snow seemingly falling from the darkness overhead. It all called out to me, afresh. Then it hit me—the stillness, the quiet, the silence that seems to accompany a snowy winter night—and it stopped me in my tracks. It seemed I couldn’t take it all in: the stark and brutal beauty of the bitter cold, the snow-covered landscape, nature in its barren rest; the freshness filled my every sense.

Standing in the stable drive, halfway between the stable and my home, I was awestruck. Nature in all its beauty, power, and force had arrested my attention, and I sensed afresh my connection to all that was made. In that moment I came to my senses; aware that I was present, that I belonged, and that I was welcome to be a part of the landscape on that winter night, standing on the gravel drive along our horse pasture. I was overjoyed, and I spontaneously raised my hands to receive all the moment had and to take it all in. My voice broke the still and silent frozen air as I whispered, “Thank you.”

A Prayer for Being Present

Creator and Maker of all, open our ears so we might be aware and appreciative of your creation and alive to you and all who bear your image today. Help us have eyes to see you in that which is around us, ears quick to hear you in stillness and in the words of others, and hearts soft to your touch and full of compassion toward all that moves your heart. May we come to our senses today, wholly centered on the here and now.

May we be fully conscious of the truth that you are near, here and with us. We ask this in the name of your Son, Emmanuel, God with us. Amen.

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