Just Be Here Now

There is a column called Modern Love in the Sunday New York Times.Last week’s entry got to me. Sarah Rutledge is a writer who has fallen for a musician;  their romance started this winter, so she calls her partner her “quarantine boyfriend”. Living in New York City through the worst of the pandemic these two made space for romance, texting and talking, trading stories about their children. A musician, he has lost his livelihood and worried about losing his apartment. A divorced dad enduring social distancing, he was sad about losing contact with his daughter who was living with his former wife, and worried about his mother quarantined in a nursing home.

It was not the optimal time for a new relationship. The world seemed bleak and barren all around; yet somehow this sapling of romance grew in Brooklyn. The way that they made it work was by remembering that for now their affection would be enough. They never made promises they were not sure they could keep but they savored each visit for the treasure of the moments they are sharing. 

All the Zen masters tell you to live in the “now”. Psychologists advise you to live for today. Don’t regret the past or anticipate the future. Most of us chafe at this glib advice. If you come to my office in the church, (remember that room?) you will find a small picture on the top of the bookshelf that says“Be here now”. I did not buy that for my visitors, but as a reminder for myself. I knew I needed to avoid re-hashing the past or planning all kinds of future scenarios. Whenever I look up I am reminded -Just be here now

I think that is what Jesus meant when he said, “Consider the lilies of the fields. They neither reap nor sew nor gather into barns. Yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Christ says, these flowers don’t have cell phones with calendars, or dairies to reminisce; instead they grow and change, strut their stuff and die without self-consciousness. 

 Rutledge, writes  “ We hold each other’s eyes and smile. We are starting to love each other. Tomorrow is not promised. I have no idea what it will bring. I never did, but the pandemic has stripped away any remaining illusions of control or stability. My quarantine boyfriend and I may not last much longer, or we may part when we are allowed into the world at large… {but} there’s a lot to be said for shared food and drink, kisses and company, sympathy and laughter.”  

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