Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Finding the Sacred in the Here and the Now

New photo for the blog heading - let's see how well it wears.  This is the entry gate to the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary.  I have always thought the word "Sanctuary" sets the tone for this lovely place, as it is like a cloister in its set-apartness and quiet (other than the buzz and grumble of the highway traffic off to the side).

I have been living in a blur, but in the last couple of weeks, I've been rereading some material from Thich Nhat Hahn (for my fall Spiritual Journey course that I teach locally), and I'm trying to take to heart the injunction to live in the here and in the now.  It's the same lesson, of course, from such spiritual classics as Practicing the Presence of God by Br. Lawrence. 

Here's a lovely example of this sentiment, perhaps a bit super-charged from Thomas Kelly's mystical breakthrough in his last years of life, from The Eternal Promise, the second posthumous collection of his short writings (following from the better-known  ATestament of Devotion). 

(Written in 1938-1941, and initially published in 1966 by Harper and Row; pages 31-32.)

...In the experience of Presence each successive Moment of living is seen as a completion of the whole of Life's meaning.  And that completed moment enters again into the next moment with its uniqueness and its novelty, and new synthesis and completedness are achieved.  Time, as sheer flow, is tantalizing, torturing, tragedy.  Time as experienced in its matrix and seedbed, the Eternal, is perpetual completion, triumph, release.  Time as every-stretched toward goals is endless disappointment and postponements; Time as continuously given within and flowing from the Eternal is charged with serenity and satisfaction. Were earthly life to end in this moment, all would be well.  For this Here, this Now, is not a mathematical point in the streem of Time; it is swollen with Eternity, it is the dwelloing place of God Himself.  We ask no more; we are at home.  Thou who hast made us for Thyself dost in each moment give us our rest in Thee.  Each moment has a Before and After; but still deeper, it has Eternity, and we have tasted it and are satisfied.  As the English poet Coleridge says: "We on honeydew have fed, and drunk the milk of Paradise."  Would that I could put into words that complete readiness and completedness of each moment of life have intrinsic value.  The profound satisfaction within it seems to come not from the earthly past, for that may have been stupid, nor from the earthly future, for that may seem dark.  It seems to come from the deep springs of Eternal Life breaking into Time itself, nay, begetting Time itself, disclosing itself as the Alpha and Omega of time, and into the ears of its time-born children whispering the secret of eternal peace.


Laoch of Chicago said...

It's ironic that "live in the moment," is a feature of so many philosophical and religious ideologies, while at the same time being so hard to actually put into practice.

shoreacres said...

I very much like both photos - the header and the one in this blog entry.

I have trouble these days with passages like the one you quoted, but it did bring to mind Paul Tillich and his famous series of sermons collected under the title "The Eternal Now". I need to go look those up. I have a feeling the conclusions are much the same, but Tillich's language was more accessible for me.