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The Ministry of PresenceBy Awa Jangha
I have been seriously considering this question in light of the amount of things that can quickly compete for our time and attention. We live in a culture that advocates the action of multitasking with an emphasis on doing things expediently so that more can be done and therefore added to our lists. When I was asked what I wanted for a gift, my first thought was the gift of time— more specifically, the gift of having an additional day to get done everything on my continually growing list of Things to Do. In truth, even if I had all the extra time in the world, I would still have things to do. There may always be a ‘Things to Do’ list, but perhaps the goal can be shifted away from the accomplishment of everything within an unrealistic time table. Instead the goal can be that of moving the ability to be present to the top of the list and infusing presence throughout how we engage the things on our ‘Things to Do’ list.
How might it be different if we did one thing at a time, with the intent of being fully present? How might using all of our senses to take in what we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell enrich the experience of that one thing on our list?
Presence in Our Work
This is also applicable to the work we do. The quality of our work may improve with our full presence attuned to our actions. The application of presence to our thoughts and knowledge can apply to many things work-related such as writing, reading, organizing, creating, and engaging with others.
Presence in Relationships
How would the quality of our relationships change if we stopped everything in order to be present with one another in conversation (i.e. turning off the TV when on a phone call or intentionally not checking our e-mail/text messages when spending time together)? Being present is a gift we give each other; a gift of our time and attention. It can be an expression of love; to prioritize the person we fully attend to over the many things in life that compete for our time. Presence is also a gift to ourselves as we more fully live in the moment and make each experience memorable.
Lastly, I think about the prayer for the presence of God to be with others and to be with ourselves. For me, the notion of peace and love are associated with God’s presence.
In praying for others, how might the request for the recognition of God’s presence in their life shift perspective, empower, and encourage them?
How might that same prayer for God’s presence for yourself also impact and change your experiences today?
I encourage you to give yourself and others the gift of presence and I pray that you would experience the comfort, love, peace, and joy of God’s presence today.
Dr. Awa Jangha is Assistant Professor of Counselor Education at Seminary of the Southwest. She earned a PhD from Loyola University Maryland in Pastoral Counseling (a Counselor Education and Supervision program). Before moving to Austin, Dr. Jangha served in private practice in Washington DC, where she integrated art therapy with pastoral counseling. Her research interests include multicultural competency, counselor training and supervision, identity development, and arts based research.
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