Here and Now: Discernment

​Life is a gift.  But like every gift, it comes wrapped.  We can think of this as the immediate impression which each moment provides.  And as with some gifts, what we see first (i.e. the wrapping paper, bow, etc) is noteworthy in and of itself.

But the outside decoration is not the extent of the gift.  In fact, the actual gift is inside the box, and it has to be opened in order to know what’s there.

Present-moment living works like this.  Our senses bring innumerable “wrappings” to us, but to discover the gift we have to go beneath the surface.  We have to “unwrap” the moment and look inside it.

Buddhists call the act of going beneath the surface “deep seeing.”  I like that term because it is a reminder there is always more going on than meets the eye.  In Christian language, the word is meditation, defined by Hugh of St. Victor as ” piercing to the core of a particular truth.”

Living here-and-now provides the opportunity to go more deeply into our experiences, piercing the into the core of them, being attentive to more than the initial revelation.  We believe that it is when we stop, look, and listen that we come to discernment.  And it is in moments of discernment when we realize (as St. Francis put it) God is doing cartwheels in creation.  It is in discernment where we see and accept (as E. Stanley Jones put it) our marching orders.


About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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