The gift of here and now by LAURIE TENHAVE-CHAPMAN First Congregational Church of Rockford I like to think of myself as an optimistic, carefree person. But I have this uncanny predisposition to see potentially dire mishaps in the simplest and safest of settings. For example, I might be watching a play in a beautiful, old Chicago theatre. I admire the chandelier gracing gilded ceilings. All of a sudden I’m thinking, “What if I were hanging off that chandelier? How long could I hang on? Would it hold my weight? What would the people below do to help me?” Or I’m driving behind a truck loaded with logs. Couldn’t one of those work itself loose and come right through my windshield? Before I can send out an S.O.S. I’m breathing into a bag and trying to snap my mind back to my very safe reality. Fortunately for me these are just ridiculous daydreams. My husband knows this about me and, when he sees a potentially hazardous situation, he will ask me with a grin, “Are you hanging from a chandelier?” Then we both laugh and get on with reality. Our imaginations can do a number on us. Jesus’ ministry was one of acting mercifully in the present moment even as danger lurked nearby. While the religious hotshots breathed threats against Him, He focused on the very real needs around Him: illness, loss and poverty. He didn’t waste His energies musing, “What if?” He took the 24 hours of each day He was granted in His short ministry to model a life of active, hands-on faith. So, whenever my mind drifts down some perilous rabbit hole, I pull myself right back out with a laugh. Then I focus on who God has placed before me that day so that I can make a difference for good. Thanks be to God for the very real opportunities placed before us each day. These keep us grounded in faith and focused on the gift of the here and now!