Sunday, January 25, 2009

It takes a lifetime…

It takes a lifetime to live a life.*
–– Elliam Fakespeare

Most of our present moments, though they are, strictly speaking, the only thing we possess, are but oscillating patches of habit, regret and hope, condensations of the past and an evaporation into the future. Who we are is both ‘when’ we come from and ‘when’ we are going. The failures of any one moment must be weighed by the metal out of which they were forged and must be measured against the stresses set to meet them. You are bigger than your ‘right now,’ and thus not liable (nor commendable) for it alone. Being bigger than any one moment does not, however, exempt you from the stifling humility that each of our most pitiful moments reveals of us. Don’t settle for now alone, since there is One continually calling you past it into an ever fresh present.

To abandon your ideals just because you are not worthy of them is the only thing that makes you unworthy of them. Ideals, being ideal, are, in a sense, made to be missed. On the one hand, if we attained stasis in an ‘ideal’ past, we would be crystallized and inert. This is much of the point of my poem, "Past On," which begins thus:

The past


But the past parts

––do they part?

Time lost

is the only time

we know,

the only time

we gain

with the tender called pain.

and concludes:

My past has cost me

so much of my past.

The time has come,

time has come

and gone,

for the past…

Time is up

for the past:

to go now,

in time.

If were made to live in our past, in other words, God would not have ordained the very passage of time which generates the past per se.

On the other hand, if we had no ideal leading us onto an endless horizon, we would sink into the fleeting quicksand of the passing moments. This is what I meant a couple days ago about "present grace." It is not so much that the world is moving away from us, as that, as we mature, we increasingly see our proper place in it, a place that takes on an increasingly small stature in comparison to the glory all around us.

* Tentative translations:


Man braucht ein Leben, das Leben zu leben.

Vivir la vida necesita una vida.

[Help welcome!]

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