Remaining in the moment

Remaining in the moment

Dear Circle of Hope,

Last weekend when I was returning to my car after doing a quick shop at my local supermarket for dinner supplies, I noticed an older man struggling to reverse park his vehicle into the car space next to mine. The late afternoon lowering sun was falling straight into his eyes and he couldn’t see clearly behind him. After helping him navigate successfully into the spot and being thanked, he asked me a strange question: “What do you do?” This always feels like a loaded question to me when it comes to what I do and the varied understandings in our communities about ministers and the church. I have developed a humorous lengthy response that I have used once or twice. However, in this moment I was aware of the time and my need to get home to begin cooking dinner for my kids. So without hesitating I said, “I’m a minister.”

What ensued was a conversation that lasted about 40 minutes and saw us move from me standing at his window chatting, to us both standing and leaning on the bin enclosure behind his parked car. This man new many scholarly things about church history, institutions, the Christian Scriptures and wanted to engage in a friendly, though pointed conversation about his insights and learnings. A few times he even cheekily admonished me, saying I should know the answers as I was a minister!

Although I enjoyed the conversation I was aware of the time and my family responsibilities and it was my day off. I was about to end the conversation not long after it began, when I realised something important…that I could choose to remain in the moment as it seemed important for this man. He explained what he did for work, his wonderings about faith, his struggles in life and his own personal attempts to live a simple life where he tries his best to love his neighbour.

Eventually I was able to draw the conversation to a close and he thanked me for the chat. He moved away and I moved towards my car door. I was surprised when he turned around and walked slowly back towards me. Looking me directly in the eyes this man softly said, “You know, I came here to do my shopping, not expecting that I would meet with God today.” He then reached out, wrapped me in an embrace and left. I was moved deeply.

Today, I am still reflecting on this interaction. In hindsight I can say that for this man something happened in our conversation that opened up a window to the Divine and I am thankful that I chose to remain in the moment and to not rush to the next thing. May we all recognise that there are times in life when we need to remain in the moment and in so doing we can show people that they have value and are worthy of connection, time and conversation. This is just another way that we can show love to our neighbour.

Thank you for being part of our Circle of Hope,

Phil Dokmanovic is Minister at Bangalow Byron Bay Uniting Church.

This piece first appeared on the Byron Shire Uniting Churches website. View the original here.


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