Celebrate and embrace all you have in this moment
George Harrison wrote a song about all things passing away. All things must pass away, he said. His thought came from his involvement with Eastern spirituality, but the same idea can be found in the Bible. This world, and everything associated with it, is in the process of passing away.
It makes me think of time. I’ve been facing deadlines on two chapters, and the editors are waiting on the final revisions. So, there is the crunch of an approaching point in time, with all its attendant demands. People in business or industry face such things routinely. In a sense, so do people diagnosed with a terminal illness. It is the sense that time is running out.
Then there is the haunting or reminiscence of events from time that has already passed. If one remembers something one is not proud of, something one regrets, or something that led to loss, then it is a haunting, and perhaps it comes with guilt, shame, or mourning. If a person remembers something once loved and that the person would like to live through again, then it is a bittersweet reminiscence of sweetness tasted but now gone. There is a sadness about that, but there is also a thankfulness and appreciation.
When I was a child I used to hate Christmas Eve, because I could never get to sleep. I remember thinking that if I could only fall asleep, then immediately it would be Christmas morning and I could get up and see all the presents under the tree, but the thought of that was so exciting that I could never fall asleep. I would make myself sick trying to go to sleep. So, sometimes time seems to slow down.
On other occasions time seems to speed up. The older I get the faster time seems to be going. It seems like my daughter’s birthday in January was just yesterday, but now it’s the end of July already and I’m writing August on appointment slips for my clients.
Then there is the issue of endings in time, the end of time. I can’t really fathom it. If time is a sequence of events, then how can there be anything going on, how can there be existence, without time? How can I BE as a person, as a living entity, without time? For some people that is the point. Death for them is the end of being and so the end of personal time. Time might be going on for others, but not any longer for them. For those who believe in God, who believe that a kind of existence extends beyond earthly death, and like the thief on the cross who went into the conscious presence with Christ in paradise after he died, there is no end in time.
So, what does the term “the end times” mean in the Bible? What is passing away? What is coming to an end? There is personal eschatology and there is, to put it this way, general eschatology. In other words, I am coming to an end, and the world (and everything associated with it) is coming to an end. This body of mine will die. This world in which I live will be consumed. Even if you do not believe in the Bible, scientists can tell you that eventually our sun will supernova. There is a likelihood that we will exhaust the resources of the Earth even before then (at the rate we are going) or that we will pollute it too much before then. Perhaps we will blow it all up in a nuclear holocaust. I don’t know exactly how, but I believe it will happen. I don’t know exactly when, but I believe it will happen. I will die, and the world as I know it will end.
We get reminders of this passing of things and people in the passing of time. The flowers eventually wither. The paint peels. The car needs new tyres. Even things that seem like they have always been and always will be, eventually pass away. After 50 years, the Bermuda Sun is closing. It was a family business that became a family-like community of people dedicated to its existence and its product. Such people hug one another through their tears at the realisation that their community is dissolving. Such people mourn the loss as if they were grieving a person in his last days with breath. The breathing slows and grows more faint, and then it stops. All things must pass.
What is to be done in the face of the passing of time and the ending of things? I think it is to celebrate and fully embrace the current moment, because it’s really all we have. I do have faith for such future things as the resurrection, but right now is what I currently have. And there is good evidence that God would have us adopt a mindful attitude about that. He says, for instance, today, while it is today, if you hear my voice, don’t harden your hearts. Today. Right now. Being mindful is to pay attention, to be aware of what is currently going on without judgment, without that inner critic that always tears it all apart and makes it terrible.
So, today I have life. Today I have work. Today I live in a beautiful place. I am blessed with the ability to move and breathe. I can see. I can hear, even though I can’t hear as well as I used to. I can. I am. Today. Even though I am in the process of passing away, and the world in which I live is passing away, it still is and I still am. I can even enjoy watching the ants that seem bent on invading my apartment — amazing creatures so busy and determined, so set on some goal and so much in the process of going somewhere to accomplish something. I am determined they will not take over the place where I live. Today, while it is today, I will fight them. Perhaps I will fight them all summer long, and while we are engaged in conflict, there will be a routine that will mark my days and contribute to the passing of time. Before I know it, the season will change once again, and the ants will recede back into the ground under the patio. But not yet. Not today.