The Present Moment

Musings /Part 6/ on the Practices of a
Resurrection (Expansive) Spirituality

"Creative Commons live in the present moment" by Asja Boroš is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Creative Commons live in the present moment” by Asja Boroš is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Deuteronomy 5:3 The Lord didn’t make this covenant with our ancestors but with us—all of us who are here and alive right now. (CEB)

The past has gone. It resides only in memory. Its story can be told and retold, each time with different emphases, but the past remains unavailable except in memory and story. The future has not yet arrived. It resides only in fantasy and dreams. The future, as we have dreamt it, may never arrive. Obsession with the past or the future constricts and stifles the present. But we do have a past and there will be a future. We can only live in the tension between the recollections of that which has come and gone and that which may never arrive.

Jean-Pierre de Caussade calls that tension “the sacrament of the present moment;’ Eckhart Tolle, “the power of now;” Paul Tillich, “the eternal now.” John Caputo writes, “We live in the space between a memory and a promise… the space between poetry and prose, between the to-come and the situation in which we find ourselves, the space we call the moment.” (It Spooks, 2015, pp. 21 & 34)

There seems to be a political movement today that thrives on a sanitized memory of the past – a call to return to a time when our society wasn’t challenged by rapid change and alternate world-views… a time when whites were privileged… a time when women “knew their place”… a time when everyone was Catholic, Protestant, or Jew… a time when everyone spoke English… a time when there was no threat of climate change… a time when it was not necessary to regulate industries… a time when the citizenry was the primary concern of elected officials.

There seems to be a religious movement today that thrives on a blind hope for the future… a time and place where evil will be eradicated by a powerful God… an after-life in Heaven where only those who believe in Jesus will be present… a time when people will only experience bliss and contentment as they are re-united with their loved ones… a time for me and God without the interference of those who believe differently.

Sadly, these two approaches deny the sanctity and reality of the present moment. We live in the now, the present moment, in the meantime. We live in the ambiguity of daily having to make choices which are ethically challenging, decisions about which we may later feel guilty or second guess. We live in the tension and conflict of ideas and practices about what is right for the earth and for our neighbors. We live with the stress created because we perceive with enmity those who might be our neighbors.

A Resurrection (Expansive) Spirituality does not seek escape from the ambiguities, vicissitudes, and challenges of the present moment. In fact, such a spirituality sees the present as the eternal now – the time when life is lived… when compassion, forgiveness and reconciliation are the primary constituents of all relationships… when justice and well-being for all is the prime directive… where there is a peaceable Way to be pursued… where I (we) can “win” only when you (they) also win… where God, others, and the earth are ever present in the caring of our hearts.

A Resurrection (Expansive) Spirituality calls for a letting go of what is not, an openness to what is. It is the practice of driving down the street and looking beyond the political campaign signs and seeing the homes of neighbors… looking beyond the pot holes and seeing the trees and the flowers and the pond and the deer. It is letting go of the idea that I don’t have enough, that I need more. It is living as if life is a cornucopia of abundance, which it is.

Above all, a Resurrection (Expansive) Spirituality is opening myself to hear, “This is my beloved, in whom I am well-pleased.” And, hearing it, living into and out of that affirmation.

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