I have a beautiful young friend who is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her baby. “Just a few more weeks till he arrives!” she says excitedly.

I smile remembering fondly that time of expectant joy – the wonder of what will be, the hope of what tomorrow will bring. There are a few moments given to us in life where we can sit back and see how we have grown and how God has been working in our lives. This is one of them.

I remember carrying my first son, so many changes and so very many emotions. I remember singing on my way to teach every morning, “Samuel or Abigail.” I had made up a whole song. I’d rub my growing belly and read stories out loud when I got home, already forming myself into the mother I truly wanted to be.

As I listened to this friend share her expectant joy, I spoke softly and said, “Live in this moment, friend. This will be the only time it will be just you and him. He can’t speak back. He can’t run away. You can just pour and pour into him with all the love in your heart, and he will feel it. You two are bonded together, and if you appreciate these moments, they will support you later in life.”

In a similar fashion, I am now watching my children grow up. My last dear child is entering middle school, and Sarah baby is not so much a baby anymore, as she informs me often. With four out of the house in the fall and only four older kids at home, it is easy to spend time wondering what life will be like soon.

But there is a beauty in the now. A realization that this moment is a gift: watching her crochet, sitting on her bed listening to a story, listening to my boys chat as they lie in their hammocks on the front porch on a beautiful spring afternoon. The busyness and mess of preparing a big dinner will one day not be here, and those sounds will be echoes on my heart, and I want to record them so I can play them back. I want them to know I was invested.

My husband and I realize that life is changing as each child grows. We both have little bucket lists and little moments we ponder as we take a walk together or share in whispers as we snuggle into bed. Simple things like, there will be a day we will be a one pizza family! Imagine just a $12 bill for dinner out!

Larger thoughts come as we ponder how empty this house will seem when they are all grown. It’s easy to think about the next thing to come, but not if it causes us to lose the appreciation of what is before our very eyes. And so, we choose to live in each moment given.

There is a temptation to always be looking forward to the next best thing. Our culture is a “But wait, there’s more!” culture. But what if the more is in the now? What if the more requires us to appreciate what is being given to truly activate the more in the moment?

Have you ever sat with someone, perhaps a spouse, in the middle of a moment and just smiled at each other over the heads of your children with a look that says, “This here? This is a blessing.” Or even shared a chuckle together wondering where this child of yours came up with a particularly zany idea.

Living in those moments and truly appreciating them activates gratitude, and gratitude draws us closer to the heart of Jesus.

I’m watching my father grow older over FaceTime. His memory is slipping, and over our many calls throughout the day, (because he forgets he has called), we share moments. Often the call will begin with him shouting at Alexa to turn the volume down on his music, or he will pass his phone to some of his friends in his assisted living home and share how he is proud of me.

It’s easy to roll my eyes or sigh, but the beauty is found in sitting back and leaning into the moment. “Yes, Mrs. Smith, it is a beautiful day here.” “Yes, Mrs. Young, I do have eight children.” “Yes, I know my dad is so proud of me.”

My Father is then passed back the phone with admiring friends and a full heart. This is easily done, and there is much to be grateful for. He desires to be included in my life, and I am grateful for that.

I love the quote by St. Augustine where he reflects on our nature to worry or look for the next thing to come. He says, “Let our lives be good, and the times are good. We make our times; such as we are, such are the times.”

So let us live in the beauty of now, the gift of what has been given, looking for the good, and it will present itself to us. For our eyes will reflect what our hearts know to be true.

This article first appeared in the Catholic Times.

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