Eternal Now

Almost every time we met he would share dreams and aspirations of his next chapter. His primary career was mid-management in the banking world and he was looking forward to retiring when he could afford it. And then three years before his long anticipated retirement he was let go in an organizational restructuring. To make ends meet he took a job in retail – he enjoyed helping folks but loathed his boss. 

Upon the joyous occasion of his last day of work friends and family gathered for a celebratory dinner. Everyone in attendance knew how desperately he wanted to live a different life. He got up early the next morning to go fishing…an hour later he was found on the garage floor from a massive heart attack. 

Theologian Frederick Buechner gives this poignant perspective,“The point is to see today for what it is because it will be gone before you know it. If you waste it, it is your life that you are wasting. If you look the other way, it may be the moment you’ve been waiting for always that you’re missing. All other days have either disappeared into darkness and oblivion or not yet emerged from them. Today is the only day there is.” 

I must confess, I find Buechner’s viewpoint quite challenging. I have so many wonderful rich memories of people, places and experiences. I also have no shortage of hopes, dreams and aspirations. And if I am really honest with myself, I have also fallen victim to missing the present moment because I was either reminiscing or visioning. 

I have come to understand to be fully present in the moment is a spiritual discipline. To fully engage the person in front of me, the world that surrounds me, the experience that is happening right now is to embrace what theologian Paul Tillich calls the ‘Eternal Now’. It is the spiritual awareness that each moment has an eternal dimension or as Jesus of Nazareth proclaimed, “The kingdom of God has come near.” 

The following from friend and theologian John Philip Newell consistently provides me with the inspiration to fully embrace deeply the present moment:

In the gift of this new day,
in the gift of the present moment,
in the gift of time and eternity intertwined,
let us be grateful,
let us be attentive,
let us be open to what has never happened before,
in the gift of this new day,
in the gift of the present moment,
in the gift of time and eternity intertwined.


5 thoughts on “Eternal Now”

  1. Michael K Daley

    As a so-called Senior member of society, I often find my peers reminiscing about the past, but I am really trying to focus on today at my current relationships, and how I can make things better in the near term. I don’t know how many more years I have on this orb, but I wanna make each one count for something good whatever that means. Thank you Brian for this reminder to stay in the present.

  2. Brian, thanks for your reflection on the eternal now. I have found that a great gift of being 90 years old is that this now makes even greater sense. Blessings to you, and keep on writing, Doug Carpenter

  3. Katie Longinotti

    Wonderful wisdom. It is especially difficult in this age of a million distractions! Love those words from JPN as well

  4. I know this all too well. Even having experienced this with the death of my husband (he had 6 glorious days of retirement), it can be difficult for me to stay in the moment. Thank you for the reminder ❤️

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