“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” Proverbs 27:1
One day I was having lunch with my husband. The words on a man’s hat nearby caught my eye: “Own the moment!” My google search of the verse (being curious of its origin) led me to one of the biggest hockey stores in U.S.
I was not interested in the merchandise but the words hit me. The most recent time that I needed to own the moment was when I went to surgery for the removal of a cyst. From the instant, I was informed that I needed to go to hospital for this, I was gripped with anxiety, churning days and nights over the many “what-ifs”… being a scaredy cat!
I haven’t been in the hospital for years and the last time I was, it was to give birth to my now 25-year-old daughter. So when I was wheeled into the theatre, (finding myself so alone, leaving behind my husband and sister at the ward), with only my Fatima rosary beads as my comforting companion, I needed to own the moment when the anaesthetist injected the liquid into my prepped hand. That to me was the only moment I could own, for I was “gone” and I woke up after an hour, with no memory of what happened. All I could do was trust the medical team who was managing my surgery. I must have been lifted up by the hundreds of prayers said for me by family, friends and the community that I woke up with no pain, sent home the same day and recovered quite well afterwards. How blessed I am!
Another verse similar to “Own the Moment” is “Seize the Day!” Carpe diem is a Latin aphorism, taken from book 1 of the Roman poet Horace’s work Odes. The ode says that the future is unforeseen and that one should not leave to chance future happenings, but rather one should do all one can today to make one’s future better. The meaning of “carpe diem” as used by Horace is not to ignore the future, but rather not to trust that everything is going to fall into place for you and taking action for the future today. (Wikipedia)
I stand guilty of not owning the moment, of not seizing the day as much as I should, as my thoughts and actions are oftentimes directed into the future – what to eat next, where to
go after, what is the event a few days from now, how much laundry in the basket, who is coming for counselling soon, what time for bed, the next article to write about. Sometimes I find myself hardly listening to my husband talking about his cleaning woes at work, or to my 85-year-old father in his interest in Philippine politics, barely focusing on my granddaughter’s attempts at dancing and singing and stories about school. When I pray, my mind wanders off and although I ask for the presence of God, I am gone by the time He arrives! My frustration increases when my prayer time is disturbed by a phone call, an email or a text, and yet I find myself wondering if I should check and reply to the sender immediately.
Can I really own a moment? How? Even when I sleep, dreams intrude and they rudely take over my desire to rest my exhausted brain and body. Can I really seize the day? I make wonderful plans but something happens to mess it up and catapult it into an unwanted spin or is subdued by boredom and everything is slow, dreary and monotonous.
My sister Tes lent me a book by Henri Nouwen, “Discernment”. How appropriate as I was in that critical time of my life. Nouwen shared: “Know the time: when to act, when to wait, when to be led.”
When to act – are spontaneous responses to the experience of God’s active service in our lives; when to wait – is patient and attentive listening, trusting that this long process will bear fruit as it relies on the promises of God on you; and when to be led may mean moving from action to passion, when we become recipient of other people’s actions and suffering can become an active and noble ministry. A cancer patient might find himself in the stage of when to be led – often he is at the mercy of doctors, hospitals, treatments, there is nothing much to do but wait and be led.
Jesus is our perfect model for these three – “owning the moment”. He walked, preached, healed, and performed miracles. At Gethsemane, he waited. At the cross, he was led. He owned every moment. At Pentecost, the apostles waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit – then they acted with boldness to bring the Good News to the world, then they were led in various ways to their deaths and martyrdom.
I can only pray that the good Lord will help me as He leads me to these different seasons, to receive the grace to be grateful for every moment, so I can own it with love, joy and peace and able to say, “Thank you, Lord!”
(Dina is a qualified counsellor and is currently the bi-lingual counsellor for Australian Filipino Community Services. She accepts referrals from community organisations. She speaks Pampangueño, Tagalog and English. Contact her on 0430 214 917.)
First published in The Philippine Times June 2017 edition
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