Week 5 Day 4: Consumed

Question: What helps you relax and be fully present in the moment?

Write your Answer – click here

Share: #ssjetime #consumed

Transcript of Video:

Some of the things that I do for play may look like I’m working. I can get completely lost on a nice afternoon in the beehives or, amazingly enough, I love to shovel the chicken coop out. It looks like work, and to a certain extent, it is, but it’s something that I can become completely consumed by and, in a sense, be set on fire by. Now it’s strange to think of shoveling out a chicken coop as setting me on fire. But I can be completely lost. I can completely lose myself in that. And in a funny way, by doing something like that, by getting completely lost, I become completely present to the moment and, I think in that way, become fire or become consumed.

-Br. James Koester


  1. Janet on April 10, 2019 at 15:23

    Best it pond-sitting at night, by our koi pond in the south, listening to the cicadas, listening to the waterfall and for wildlife to wander (possum, deer) nearby, Looking up at the oak canopy above my head. I have many more prayerful moments in the south, soothed by nature.

  2. Janet on April 10, 2019 at 15:07

    Cooking, looking at art in any museum or public art in Cities. People watching. Reading – biography, travel, mystery. Magazines that are very visual.

  3. Brenda on April 1, 2019 at 07:58

    No background noise, no sounds. Sometimes no lights!

  4. Gwedhen Nicholas on March 31, 2019 at 10:48

    Reading really does this for me. I really get lost when I’m reading a good book; fiction or non-fiction.

  5. Susan on March 28, 2015 at 17:16

    Walking my dog Frida, working in the garden, writing, working with clients, meditation, sunlight through trees, the ocean, cloud formations at dawn, stars at night, birdsong in the morning and evening, cooking, knitting, sewing, prayer, reading … so many things!

  6. Susan Dredge on March 24, 2015 at 06:39

    I actually enjoy doing some housework and the satisfaction of seeing my home looking nice. To be able to just sit in silence and look out at my garden and see the birds and how they work to survive. Also just take the time to read a book and get fully engrossed in it. I love baking cakes, especially to share, and for me this is a great way of relaxation and just being present in the moment.

  7. Louise on March 23, 2015 at 20:18

    I love peddling my bike out to the ocean. It’s a 10-mile ride and if the wind is not too strong, I can become really intent on the movement of my legs and the feel of the air against my face. It’s a time to reflect and be totally on my own with my own thoughts.

  8. Patricia on March 23, 2015 at 16:29

    When I am having a deep tissue massage, I focus entirely on my body, say nothing and keep my eyes closed. Sometimes the therapists strong hands meet my pain and yet then there is release. When my time is up and just want to curl up on the table and sleep -= I’m relaxed.

  9. Elizabeth S on March 21, 2015 at 19:50

    Funny and or engaging conversation, running or intense physical activity. Sometimes it takes a lot to jolt me away from all the things floating through my mind so I can be present. But then there are times when I’m caught off guard, and find myself spontaneously focused only on what’s in front of me.

  10. Lisa on March 21, 2015 at 08:43

    I am fully present and can lose myself when I am involved fully in what is before me – riding my bike on a beautiful day, digging, trimming and weeding in the yard.

  11. Sophfronia on March 19, 2015 at 22:39

    What helps me relax and be fully present in the moment? Gardening. Even now, when I can’t have my hands in the earth just yet, I like walking around examining the beds and seeing what’s coming to life. The garden tells me what time it really is. For instance this winter feels like it will go on forever. But my forsythia, looking wick and full of buds, tells me spring is near. And it is. #SSJEtime

  12. Sue on March 19, 2015 at 19:35

    Playing in my garden- hands in the soil, digging, handling seedlings and seed, making rows or groups of plants, watering the garden and me – especially good if 5 year old grandson plays with

  13. Kimber on March 19, 2015 at 16:25

    I’ve already written about getting fully present in the moment. I think what helps is having all my senses engaged. When my husband and I were sitting on a balcony overlooking the pool at the inn where we stayed in Palm Springs, enjoying good California wines and tasty hors d’oeuvres, smelling the trellises of jasmine, the temperature just right, viewing the mountains and roofs between soaring palms—this was being fully present. I was totally relaxed. In fact, I started to say something about work, and my husband stopped me, saying that didn’t belong in this experience. He was right, and I brought my attention right back to the moment. What a blessing it all was!

  14. Louise on March 19, 2015 at 09:25

    I’m a day behind in these meditations so I have read all of the comments from yesterday and am shocked, shocked that no one mentioned petting their animals. My cat Chester was sitting on my lap purring as I read Brother James’ meditation while absentmindly scratching his chin. Alive on the Spirit, blessed and present.

    • Kimber on March 19, 2015 at 16:27

      I was late in responding to these questions this week, but I did mention in one of my posts something about playing with my cat. I agree. This is one of the true blessings of life.

  15. Susan on March 19, 2015 at 09:18

    Throwing pots or working in the garden. I think another word for it is flow.

  16. Kenneth Knapp on March 19, 2015 at 08:58

    Driving on winding country roads.

  17. Mark on March 19, 2015 at 07:00

    Listening to music, reading, or doing nothing

  18. Kathleen Berkowe on March 19, 2015 at 06:05

    I get completely absorbed in playing with my grandchildren ages 4 and almost 5. Pretending, drawing, reading and talking with them are the best. And when we are finished I feel refreshed!

  19. Karen Fast on March 18, 2015 at 23:40

    I lose track of time when I am working in the garden. I even forget to eat. I am not sure how relaxing that is, but I am fully present in the moment. I can relax and be lost in a good book, but not for as long.

  20. Verlinda on March 18, 2015 at 23:31

    Being in nature (especially the beach)–walking on the shore, watching the waves roll in and out–it’s timeless and yet I’m always very present there. Nothing but the sound of the waves, the cries of the occasional sea bird, the splashes of tiny fish darting in and out…and the presence of the Creator all around me.

  21. David Cranmer on March 18, 2015 at 22:50

    As I thought about the question and read through responses, I got the sense that people are responding to 2 different ideas — activities that energize them and activities when they are present in the moment. For me, what energizes me are playing the organ and studying topics connected with my work and with my hobbies. When I am present in the moment is just about once a year when I visit friends in California and get to get up early in the morning, make a cup of coffee, and sit in their spa, watching the sun come up and watching the humming birds come to the bird of paradise flowers.

  22. Dee Dee on March 18, 2015 at 22:35

    Being outdoors in nature, alone, when I have the time and space to be still, take it all in, and allow myself to be consumed with God’s presence.
    “….lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God…”

  23. Christine white on March 18, 2015 at 21:19

    Listening to my favorite music. Sitting on the beach off season and just relaxing. Walking.

  24. gwedhen nicholas on March 18, 2015 at 20:18

    Reading, cooking, making music, and writing in my journal all relax me fully into the moment. I am consumed by these things, as Br. James described. They fill me with the joy of the moment.

  25. Joseph Clarence Sala on March 18, 2015 at 19:57

    Actually, all we have is the present moment. All the rest is, in a sense, illusion.

    To answer the question, I relax by meditating and by mindful walking. Prayer and liturgy are good bets, also.

  26. Susan Zimmerman on March 18, 2015 at 18:36

    …feeling comfortable with the people around you, which for me are people who are very ‘awake’.

  27. Louise Howlett on March 18, 2015 at 18:16

    walking, singing, yoga, seems like whole body interaction makes it possible to be more present and to be more “lost”…

  28. Jana Everett on March 18, 2015 at 17:34

    Hiking or biking, anything physical that requires me to pay attention to my surroundings enables me to be in the moment. Also if my class is really engaged and there is back and forth discussion, I can engage in the moment.

  29. Mary Ann on March 18, 2015 at 17:31

    Anytime I can wander in or sit among nature but especially close to water.
    The beautiful St. Lawrence River in the Thousand Island area is where my people came from. I still find it calls me every summer to return.

  30. Gary Davis on March 18, 2015 at 17:30

    On a hot summer afternoon six
    years ago,with a ball cap pulled
    down tight on my head, I started the mower to cut my grass. I saw my wife look out the window knowing she would
    later ask why I was mowing in
    triple digit heat with out a breath of wind moving.Two hours later, with about one to go, and focused only on the
    sound of the mower and swath
    I was cutting, my cap tight on
    my head, flew off without explanation! As I stopped the
    mower and walked the seven
    feet to pick it up, I knew of no
    reason my cap had become air
    borne. As I sat on the grass it
    occurred to me I had unseen

  31. Michael on March 18, 2015 at 17:28

    When I’m writing and I have not been writing because I have given up

    • Alan on March 18, 2015 at 21:10

      If writing be the source of peacefulness write on. I hope Michael will write some more.

    • Janet on March 19, 2015 at 01:45

      I was sad when I read your comment, Michael. To give something up which helps you relax and leave behind the daily worries which press on us all, must make you sad too. I do hope you will return to writing,and find the pleasure in it that you had before.

  32. Muriel on March 18, 2015 at 17:24

    I get absorbed in doing any activity providing I am not ‘clock-watching’ , cleaning, gardening, cooking and can lose myself doing mundane chores especially when I feel the love that I have for my family and for God and thank HIM for the health and energy that I have to do them.

  33. Clare Keller on March 18, 2015 at 15:28

    Doing any number of things for which I have prepared well and allowed enough time to do. It could, like Br. James’ chicken coop, be cleaning a room in my house; it could be enjoying a meal with my husband or with dinner guests; it could be taking a morning walk; or it could be settling into bed to read a few pages before falling asleep. The necessary elements are preparing ahead, feeling temporarily freed from the clock, and enjoying the treat of just being where I’m meant to be, doing what I’m meant to do.

  34. Rebecca on March 18, 2015 at 15:13

    walking the beach during the winter months in Florida or walking in the woods with my 2 Labradors in the summer in Wisconsin

  35. Lisa on March 18, 2015 at 15:04

    I don’t know.

  36. Nicki on March 18, 2015 at 14:58

    To shed my thoughts, as I would to meditate, careful listening or reading over several times, the name of the topic up for discussion, study or game. In a retreat situation I write down what is said/asked by the leader, to wrap my mind around the suggestion, in order to be alone with it to concentrate on it. It never occurred to me to think play when being engrossed while working my way through something like this, but the joy felt once my understanding and reflection begin to happen turns it into so much pleasure, it feels like play.

  37. Joan on March 18, 2015 at 13:59

    For me, it’s when I can sit down either in my livingroom or in good weather on the balcony, with a good book to read with lovely “serenity music” music playing in the background- I am sometimes engrossed in my book, but at other times, I look up and view the trees and plants in the ravine behind my unit and watch the birds (and squirrels) flitting around (even in the wintertime) and I am at peace and thankful for the peace around me – then off again into the words in my book.

  38. Karen on March 18, 2015 at 13:54

    When I practice playing music, I have no choice but to be present in the moment because I have to pay close attention to the sheet music and what my fingers are doing. I also find it to be very relaxing and takes up more time than I realize.

  39. David Bowring on March 18, 2015 at 13:54

    wood carving

  40. Hilda on March 18, 2015 at 13:38

    Washing dishes, cleaning floors, taking part in group exercises, working in my garden, shovelling snow when all is silent, researching in archives, writing– all these activities are my play. Time speeds by so fast though!

  41. Rev Tom Calhoun on March 18, 2015 at 13:25

    I often find myself meditating in the midst of a task or activity such as walking. If I do it right, I can feel totally immersed in my meditative state during my task. I find this to be very relaxing, even if the task involves heavy work.

  42. Harold Pound on March 18, 2015 at 11:34

    When I walk and observe God’s creation I get lost and am not aware of time passing. I love to observe and take great pleasure in the beauty of God’s creation of which I am one. When I get to the point of letting all my guards down, I become aware that I am ONE with all God’s creation.

  43. Lissa Davis on March 18, 2015 at 11:02

    Working in my yard. Time flies and there’s just something awesome about being part of the earth for a time. Plus, the results are yummy.

  44. Terri on March 18, 2015 at 10:30

    Serving as a Lay Eucharistic Minister (LEM). While serving the cup to my fellow parishioners, I tend to transform somehow to another being and actually can see myself being Jesus serving the disciples. One of my colleagues commented how he enjoys seeing me as a LEM because of my smile when I serve the cup. I can picture Jesus smiling as he served the cup once he was Resurrected and was roaming the countryside.

  45. Rene Perreault on March 18, 2015 at 10:28

    Br. James’ reflection brought me way back in time to a marvelous psych professor I had at Boston College, who could find comfort, calm and could be consumed int he play of painting and wallpapering. I can get totally consumed in taking my dog for a walk….I live in AZ in the Valley and so from the moment I step out of my front door each morning I am taken up with the sights, sounds, smells of early morning in the desert. I have lived here only 3 years, but I understand the Psalms so much better….as Happy sniffs his way around the neighborhood I also am sniffing around, now getting the scent of the citrus tress in full bloom, sighting a blooming cactus, or meeting a neighbor who also is being taken for a walk y their dog……and I am consumed in it all.

  46. Jane on March 18, 2015 at 10:27

    Reading can transport me to other places, share others’ experiences. Cooking and baking give me the opportunity to co-create food that I can share with others. Walking outside, enjoying the sounds of the birds, the ever changing view of the mountain, the sun on my face. Listening to favorite pieces of classical music-that can make me feel like I’m soaring!! A good classic movie (even if I’ve seen it a zillion times before) can be totally absorbing!! And participating each day in this Lenten series!! I am so grateful to the brothers for offering this program!!

    • NA on March 18, 2015 at 20:57

      I’d love to see this extended in some way so this Lenten series would not have to come to an end!

  47. Tom on March 18, 2015 at 10:23

    Raking leaves on a cool, crisp sunny afternoon in fall listening as they playfully dance through the street.
    Shoveling a soft fluffy snow late at night when there is no one around and you can hear the silence.
    But most of all, listening, really listening to classical music.

  48. Pati on March 18, 2015 at 10:23

    For me… sometimes it’s a conscious effort …. to remind myself to FOCUS on the moment … breathe ..and be present….. but sometimes .. like sitting in the sunshine .. it seems to happen automatically …that is a moment of GRACE ….

  49. Elizabeth Huger on March 18, 2015 at 09:32

    I love working outdoors. I find peace in nature.

  50. Linda Burnett on March 18, 2015 at 09:25


  51. amy on March 18, 2015 at 09:24

    Singing! Dancing! I become aware of gestures, notes, feelings and sensations— fleeting yet significant in the moment they come into being.

  52. John on March 18, 2015 at 09:21

    Listening to instrumental music…watching a fireplace fire… Doing both simultaneously…

  53. Sarah Acland on March 18, 2015 at 08:43

    My chosen work sometimes plunges me deeply into the present of another human being. This is for that time all absorbing. And while there are other activities in which I can become lost, this one is probably the most fulfilling.
    It’s hard to think what will replace it when I retire. I think it’s also the reason why I keep not retiring.

  54. Caitlyn on March 18, 2015 at 08:26

    It took me a while to meditate on the question and find an answer. I have been so consumed by work lately and have felt a little tired from it. So first I thought about how rock climbing makes me completely present. It’s like active full body meditation for me – I can completely empty myself of thoughts and concerns and let myself be filled with the wonders and challenges of God hidden in the rock. Then I thought about when it’s my turn to cook for my intentional community. It’s not something that I can schedule over the top of – when there are hungry mouths I must cook for them! And I get lost and comfortable in the act of it. But then I finally realized, for as tired as I’ve felt from work at the parish and for as much time as I’ve put in recently, it’s because I’m lost in it and love it. It was a lovely thing to realize this morning, that even for all the times it feels like hard frustrating work, it’s work I’ve chosen because I can so easily give my whole self to it and be joyful in that.

  55. Lucia S. on March 18, 2015 at 08:12

    Being under water ‘at one’ with all the creatures of the sea! If that is not an option, then walking on the beach with the sound of the ocean echoing life’s pattern of ebb and flow, or walking anywhere outside.

  56. Carol Tolonen on March 18, 2015 at 07:58

    I’m not sure I can tell the difference between being present in the moment and being off somewhere in space. I know what you mean about being lost in manual labor. I feel it especially when I am weeding. But I’ve always thought I was really lost, not present in the moment. It is relaxing but I don’t feel any fire because I’m not really there. Sometimes I consciously bring myself back for a moment and everything comes alive again. colors seem brighter. But it is ephemeral. It is a brief moment. I wish I could stay present in the present.

  57. Marta e. on March 18, 2015 at 07:56

    For me, the Brother’s chicken coop is like mucking the paddocks after the snows and rains we have had recently in Va. – rhythmic, absorbing, filled with life, connected to God’s Creation, and nurturing to both the land, and the other elements.

    Then, I can go inside and try to do housework so that a clean-er house can nurture my friends (and me). Then some time on the piano, recently going over hymns from the urban revival period as well as the spirituals period, hymn tunes and words that I can carry around with me during the day to refocus me so that I don’t get caught up with daily garbage.

    And, thoughts of the warmer weather that was here briefly before it has turned cold again last night.

    • Marta e. on March 18, 2015 at 07:59

      P.s. And joyful memories of the LD tc conversation with my grandchildren last night to celebrate their birthdays and st. Patrick’s day, remembering our joyful times together. And looking forward to figuring out how to plan a visit from Va to California where it is 90 degrees

  58. N on March 18, 2015 at 07:55

    For me, a good walk is enormously helpful but I also draw great benefit from closing my eyes and taking long, deliberative breaths.

  59. Kathy B on March 18, 2015 at 07:52

    I have to echo Br. James – working in the garden is a delight and a joy, even pulling weeds, and slogging through mud (though cold mud may be a little less uplifting…) . There’s something about the tactile sensations of interaction with living things, and the sense of wonder at how it all works and will grow again that is for me total worship.

    • NA on March 18, 2015 at 20:52

      I get lost in pruning, digging, and large weeding jobs, too. Sore muscles but free soul.

  60. NA on March 18, 2015 at 07:52

    And any time your chicken coop is too clean, Brother James, we have two here just waiting. We would happily offer you hospitality…and a shovel! 😉

    • Randy Ruffin on March 18, 2015 at 18:12

      I only have one, rather small hen house, but I can’t say I get lost in cleaning it out, or that it sets me on fire, so, Brother James, you are most welcome here in Virginia as well! But I can get lost, or consumed, working in the garden, singing or playing music, writing at times, and certainly reading a good book.

  61. Jeanne on March 18, 2015 at 07:52

    In a funny way, work. I put it off and put it off because my lack of confidence (flip side of perfectionism) makes me dread it, but once I’m in it (legal research) I am completely consumed by it. There is no burden, just focus. I never thought of that as play, but could that be my way of cleaning out the chicken coop?

  62. Becky on March 18, 2015 at 07:51

    Working in the garden. Quiet time on the front porch on a summer evening. A fire in the fireplace in the fall or winter. A cup of tea and a crossword puzzle. Baking.

  63. NA on March 18, 2015 at 07:50

    Oh, that one is easy! I love to throw pottery on the wheel, although when I moved nearly eight years ago I had to give it up, at least temporarily. When throwing, you have to center your piece properly or it will not turn out, so the act of shaping the spinning clay as it rotates is very centering in both a literal and figurative sense.

    I can also get lost in my creative writing endeavors or in a good book, or in experiencing nature. I guess you could say the easiest places for me to get lost are in creating and in Creation.

  64. Christine Havens on March 18, 2015 at 07:49

    Crocheting often does this for me—I get lost in the rhythm of the stitches and the rows, the pattern of the yarn. I listen in a different way and am present to the moments.
    Writing can be the same, if I truly let go and just write, with no thoughts about whether it will be good enough.

  65. JGlow on March 18, 2015 at 07:46

    If play is the work of children, could work be play for adults? Montessori says that play is voluntary, creative, expansive, engaging and social. When I am at work researching a topic I volunteered to lead I feel alive and joyful. I get to learn and grow and create solutions to problems. These meditations are helping me reframe what I am doing and are restoring my joy in overwhelming work. (Being an adult though, means having that same attitude even when I didn’t volunteer.)
    Thank you.

  66. Barbara on March 18, 2015 at 07:08

    Nature in her gentle moods, working to improve our yard, reading Holy Scripture while sitting on the porch.

  67. Michele on March 18, 2015 at 06:59

    When riding my horse. Horses demand you be in the moment. You and the horse form a connection and there isn’t room for my mind to wander or think of all the things I have to do

  68. Carole on March 18, 2015 at 06:48

    Believe or not, but I can become “lost” while cutting the lawn! I also can become “lost” while watching the ocean and walking either at the beach or around town. These are calming moments for me where I can recenter

  69. Agatha Nolen on March 18, 2015 at 06:47

    Two things are all-consuming for me: music and golf. I can’t think about anything else but the notes and lyrics, or my next shot.

  70. Linda H. on March 18, 2015 at 06:38

    Answering in the negative, what makes me un-relaxed is being rushed. So, it’s time –doing things at a nice pace — that relaxes me and allows me to be present in the moment. If I’m particularly stressed, meditation or walking helps bring down the anxiety

  71. Dorothy Smith on March 18, 2015 at 06:33

    The act of creating something. As an artist, God often speaks to me in images. One of the oddities of my connection is that many times as I come to a new idea or project, I am given a fully detailed image in mymind. That image is what sets me on fire. It truly feels like inspiration or having God breath into my being. Then as I weld, heat and bend steel or as I shape clay though it is 80 or 90% work, there are times when I fly, certain of my belonging.

  72. Karen on March 18, 2015 at 06:27

    Being outside and taking in all of God’s creation helps me to relax and become fully present in the moment. That’s why I love to walk in prayer rather than finding a ‘nice quiet place’. I can also become fully lost when gardening, woodworking, and playing my horn. These things are fun to me and almost never feel like work.

  73. Linda B on March 18, 2015 at 06:25

    Working in the garden. There is something about working the soil or watering plants that causes me to be fully present. It is the most amazing time. Watching the plants thrive is renewing to my spirit.

  74. Kara on March 18, 2015 at 06:16

    Being outside…the tweet of a bird in a glen…the sun on flower petals…the breath of God’s Spirit on my face…

  75. Christopher Epting on March 18, 2015 at 04:43

    Almost anytime I can be on, or near, the water. I grew up on boats in Florida’s rivers, lakes, and seas. Now that I live in the Midwest, I am fortunate to be blocks from the mighty Mississippi River and parks with small lakes and creeks. Water relaxes and centers me in the moment.

    • Christina on March 18, 2015 at 09:02

      Christopher: I grew up in England and at a seaside place in Scotland. The sea is in my blood. I now live on Lake Ontario, and quite close to the Rideau Canal that runs from Ottawa down to Kingston. In the summer, there are nearby lakes to visit. However, wonderful as they are, for me they are not like the sea. I have just returned from a week in the Caribbean – I watch the waves breaking on the reefs – timeless. Millions of years, over and over. I am immersed as I am rejuvenated by being there. I try to have one trip a year to the sea.

  76. bob on March 18, 2015 at 04:14

    So, a lack of other time pressures, enough sleep, and a task ir time that I know enough about to do and not question are the groundings. And it’s then either a focus to become mindful, or an absence that leads to it, and the moment of immersion in the present becomes real.

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