Back in primary school, this would have been a daily occurrence.
The teacher would mark our names off the class attendance list each morning and it would be followed by each student saying "present" to show they were there. Every so often we would have someone off sick and there would be silence—looks around the room then continuation onto the next student's name.
I was reminded of this recently when travelling with friends and family and noticed that at the lunch or dinner table, we were each trying hard to quickly reply to text messages/emails and even Instagram comments before we could put down our phones for a whole of 30-45 minutes of uninterrupted conversations face to face.
A tough gig
Staying present is a tough gig and I for one am no expert.
I work in the technology industry where each week there is a new improvement or update being made so that emails can be automated, efficiency can be improved and overall making ourselves more effective at work.
I love being able to connect with family overseas through photos, text my team updates to ensure we're all on the same page and see how social media can transform and restore lives from the toughest society issues such as human trafficking across Europe, Poverty in India and awareness on health diseases globally.
Don't miss the present
But through all this, how do I stay present? How do I stay connected with the people around me, ensuring I do not miss the present because I was too busy focusing on the future and everything else?
In Matthew chapter 6, verse 34 it says, "Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes."
For me, personally, I find that the element of choosing to be present requires a level of trust and openness. It forces me to deal with the moment, reflect, be engaged, often authentic and vulnerable and ultimately to feel God's presence (even when I am with others).
In 2 Peter chapter 3, Paul writes his second letter outlining that time itself is controlled by God.
In 2 Peter chapter 3, verses 8–9 it says,
"But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."
Taking these thoughts into our everyday lives, I find that the moment I choose to turn my phone on silent, turn it around, and look at someone with intent or close my laptop screen and meditate on the word: these are the moments that I wish to not ever miss out on.
Meenal Chandra is one of the Sydney-based writers choosing to stay present in every moment, every hour, and every day.
Meenal Chandra's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/meenal-chandra.html