When Adam and Eve lost their innocence in the Garden of Eden it wasn’t just awareness of their nakedness they gained. Rather, they gained awareness of the future which comes with worry and fear — what if God sees our nakedness? Will Gods reject us because we are naked?
With knowledge of the future came knowledge of the past coupled with inevitable regret, self-judgment and shame. They regretted their disobedience, judged their nakedness and were ashamed before God.
Knowing future and past brought knowing vulnerability. They/we learned choices in the moment have consequences in the future, which can be desirable or undesirable. And we often can’t control those consequences. Over time, we developed a tendency to remember the undesirable while memories of desirable moments often are fleeting. We came to see a dualistic world where most things are good or bad, black or white, all or nothing. All of this knowledge separates us from God, not because God is not present but because we are not present.
The innocence lost was the capacity to live effortlessly in the present, fully alive, fully aware of God within, fully able to simply be in the moment without worry, regret, shame or knowledge of our vulnerability.
Jesus says, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. … Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns … Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (Matthew 6:25-27)
The good news is profound. We humans still have the capacity to learn to live in the present much of the time. It takes consistent practice — paying attention in a particular way — on purpose, in the moment, without judgment, to things as they are (not as we wish they were).
The good news gets even better. When we practice consistently, we develop new neural pathways in our brain that make it easier for us to live in the moment with less effort. We will never live in the moment as effortlessly as the birds or Adam and Eve before the apple. But we can live in the moment enough to get regular glimpses of God’s love to nurture and sustain us through both joy and suffering. With these regular glimpses, we develop the knowledge that God is always present whether we are or not.
The Mindful Way Through Worry and Fear is an 8-week program where churches assemble a group of up to 10 people to practice meditation and its close cousin contemplative prayer, mindful activity and mindfully noticing your internal life — your thoughts, emotions, urges and body sensations. Led by a licensed clinical therapist, this program is research-based and draws from the Bible, contemplative writers from over the ages and modern thought.
I hope you will take a moment to learn more. With eight weeks of practice, you lay the foundation for a lifelong journey in God’s presence. Join me for the journey.
Email Sandra Miller, MSW, LCSW, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.