February 10, 2019

As I write this column on Tuesday, I am looking out my window at a beautiful scene of a light covering of snow on the grass and trees. Today is a “snow day,” that dream-come-true for many children (and not a few adults!). But, it is also a challenging day for parents and families who have to scramble to provide day care for children who will not being going to school.

These kinds of days do provide an opportunity for some people to slow down. That is certainly true for me. I could get an emergency anointing request and have to navigate slippery streets to get to the hospital or to someone’s home. But other than that, this will be a day of unexpected free time.

I spent more leisurely time in prayer this morning, lingered over the paper at breakfast, and didn’t get cleaned up until about 9:30am. I also communicated with staff at St. Thomas and St. Joseph about the closure of the school and the parish offices. But, as I sit now at my desk, looking out at the beauty, and imagining the beauty of the gorge and what our parishioners who live in Stevenson are looking at, I am grateful for this opportunity to pause.

Some random thoughts have emerged in this “pause.” One is how these days of taking things slower are so unique for me and for many of our parishioners. Our lives are so full - running from one thing to another - that we often don’t get (or don’t take) the time to slow down and savor the present moment.

I realize that for myself, as demanding as my schedule is at times, I can make conscious choices to slow down. There are parts of every day that I have some control over. I can choose not to fill those times with lots of busyness and activity. I can choose to pray, to read, to reflect, or to spend quality time with family and friends.

I have become more aware in recent months how important it is to actually schedule “down time.” Without scheduling it, I won’t commit to it. And without committing to it, I won’t have much in my spiritual, physical and emotional fuel tank to be truly present to others in ministry and in my life.

For Christmas this year Archbishop Sartain gave all the priests of the archdiocese a gift of a little book by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, entitled Into Your Hands, Father: Abandoning Ourselves to the God Who Loves Us (Ignatius Press, 2011). It is a marvelous little book that I have been lingering over for the past month or so. One section, subtitled “Living in the Present,” comes to mind today.

I think these “pauses” in our schedules allow us to truly live in the present, instead of thinking about what has been or planning for what will be. Stinissen writes, “We encounter the infinity of God only in the present moment…When we are so preoccupied with our past and our future, we naturally have neither the energy nor openness left for the present moment, the only moment that mediates God’s will” (pp. 61-63).

Days like today can remind us of the gift of a “pause” in our schedules. Perhaps they can remind us of what Sundays can be for us. The first day of the week, the day of the resurrection, the Christian Sabbath where we gather to celebrate God present to us in a most intense and remarkable way in the Eucharist.

Maybe these “pauses” like snow days, or a long weekend, or a retreat, or a vacation can help us to see the value, the gift, the grace of the present moment. As I celebrate Eucharist this weekend, I hope today’s “pause” helps me to savor God’s most remarkable presence a little more. I hope such pauses help you too.

God Bless,
Fr. Gary Lazzeroni