Answering the Door: Some Thoughts on Planning and the Present Moment…

Mary Marg and Demetrius

Who is showing up in our lives? How are we embracing each being at the door?

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

“‘And when the door bell rings, you will get your agenda,’ says the Lord.” — Sr. Mary Frances Reis, vhm on the doorbell ministry at the Visitation Monastery north Minneapolis

I’m a planner. I like to plan things. Maybe you are like me? You take stock in naming dates and times and creating agendas that spell out tasks and goals. Perhaps you take comfort in plugging information into your smart phone calendars that informs your next step in the day?  In this world and life that seems so out of our control, perhaps planning provides a bit of security?  As a classroom teacher, we had protocols for such planning where we would think ahead in time and work backwards — identifying outcomes and naming “what success will look like” or “sound like” — and again, planning accordingly for it all.

You know the old adage, though: “if you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.” I think, “Indeed!”

I’m reflecting on this compulsion or desire to plan in the face of all that I have been navigating, personally, in the recent months.  I am committed to honoring the lessons that have shown up in birthing our son Xavi, experiencing his brief life, and looking for ways that God has been present in and through it all.  I find the lessons of letting go (of outcomes/ agendas/ life itself) — such a gift — and I recognize that this is part of what the dear Visitation Sisters have been teaching me, us, the world, day in and out for years…(centuries, even, right?)

It’s a lesson about living in the present moment.

The sisters pray the divine office four times a day, and they answer the door.  In and through it all, is their ministry. They are an urban monastery of prayer and presence.

***

When Jane, the ultrasound technician, was moving her sonographic wand over my expanded mid-section at our 21 week ultrasound, I couldn’t go anywhere but that room. When she reported that Xavi’s cerebellum wasn’t intact, that he had fluid around his kidneys, stomach and heart, and that there were several holes in this central blood-pumping organ, I didn’t think I could continue breathing.  I wanted nothing more but to disappear from that room, to dissolve into the air, seep out of that space and avoid the shattering news that my son was not going to live a long life. But in that room were a whole host of prayerful beings, a communion of holy men and women convened in my heart and present in the touch of my husband’s hand.  I kept hearing, “Be still and know that I am God….Be still and know.” Those words were balm as I tried to catch my breathe and be present to life as it was –and is– unfolding.

Life is not all neat and pretty and according to how we want it, eh? It’s not how we plan for it. Enter the embrace of the present moment.

***

Sr. Katherine and MoWhen the Visitation Sisters came up from St. Louis and over from Mendota to found the Minneapolis monastery, they were given this directive about their daily life: to answer the door. Sr. Mary Frances explains this in the following words, “when the door bell rings, you will get your agenda,’ says the Lord.” The sisters pray the divine office four times a day, and they answer the door.  In and through it all, is their ministry. They are an urban monastery of prayer and presence. They, like their co-founders Jane and Francis, are “Living Jesus!” in the ways they are each called to respond to the divine life in their midst. And we are all invited to do the same.

How do we answer our doors? Who is showing up in our lives? How are we embracing the being on the other side of that front-porch-knocking in all of his or her fullness? How do we receive the news born out by each messenger? How do we say, “yes” to the incredible uncertainties that life presents us with from moment to moment? What happens when the present moment makes us want to run and hide?

On this day, I hold these questions prayerfully in my heart. I pray, along with the Visitation Sisters, for the courage to answer the door, to rest in the present moment and be okay with the plans that God has for my life — and for all of ours’. I am glad you are here with me.

6 Responses

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  1. lovely, thank you…present moment! ahhhh…thank you. I needed this.

  2. What a moving, powerfully present post. It feels like grace just to read it.

  3. Thanks, Elizabeth. Thanks, Laura. Your responses are like church; there’s a love, grace, solace, peace discovered in the liturgy of reflection…We turn toward mystery, we are present to it and one another. Thank you.

  4. dear queen, did i ever tell you about one morning when i was a pretty new sister here an attractive young woman came into our house sobbing and asking if we could just talk….i took her into the chapel and she told me about how her husband’s life had been threatened for his beliefs on education, etc. and that how she worried about him and prayed for his safety and i learned they had two small children….i prayed for them and for peace in her heart….she seemed calm and only then did i find out she was sandra samuels and her husband don who was running for city council and was made fun of at a public forum in education! this family has come to be in my prayers more often than not and i admire, respect and care for them in my prayer often….you nevery know who you are opening you door and life to/for! peace, dear melissa. this isn’t a blog…i am working on one, though…yeah, yeah….
    suzanne

  5. Dearest Melissa,
    I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your faith, strength and hope with us all. I am encouraged by the image of opening the door to the present moment. I pray to continue to open the door in my joy and in my pain. May God bless and keep you.
    Dorice

  6. I’m living in the present moment right now in the stillness of my home… Briscoe & Kam are gone and there’s no tv, radio, video games on, just stillness… All I hear is the heat turning on… I am having a searing, migraine and I just wanna lay down… Yet, I’m forcing myself to open myself up in silence to our Lord… So much for the silence, they just walked thru the door… Briscoe turns on the Lynx game… HA! Well, it was great while it lasted… I’m gonna stay in the present moment just not in silence… Thanks Melissa for the insight… Blessed Be…

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