Posts tagged ‘present’

September 13, 2015

give up saving the world and start to live savingly in it

I am not an accredited interpreter of Scripture, but taking thought for the morrow is a wast of time, I believe, because all we can do to prepare rightly for tomorrow is to do the right things today.

…The needed policy changes, though addressed to present evils, wait upon the future, and so are presently nonexistent. But changes in principle can be made now, by so few as just one of us. Changes in principle, carried into practice, are necessarily small changes made at home by one of us or a few of us. Innumerable small solutions emerge as the changed principles are adapted to unique lives in unique small places. Such small changes do not wait upon the future. In so far as they are possible now, exist now, are actual and exemplary now, they give hope. Hope, I concede, is for the future. Our nature seems to require us to hope that our life and the world’s life will continue into the future. Even so, the future offers no validation of this hope. That validation is to be found only in the knowledge, the history, the good work, and the good examples that are now at hand.

…There is in fact much at hand and in reach that is good, useful, encouraging, and full of promise, although we seem less and less inclined to attend to or value what is at hand. We are always ready to set aside our present life, even our present happiness, to peruse the menu of future exterminations. If the future is threatened by the present, which it undoubtedly is, then the present is more threatened, and often annihilated, by the future. …The present is going by and we are not in it.

…Maybe we could give up saving the world and start to live savingly in it. If using less energy would be a good idea for the future, that is because it is a good idea. …So few as just one of us can save energy right now by self-control, careful thought, and remembering the lost virtue of frugality. Spending less, burning less, traveling less may be a relief. A cooler, slower life may make us happier, more present to ourselves, and to others who need us to be present.

…Only the present good is good. It is the presence of good—good work, good thoughts, good acts, good places—by which we know that the present does not have to be a nightmare of the future. “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” because, if not at hand, it is nowhere.

From Our Only World: Ten Essays by Wendell Berry (168-176).

July 18, 2015

all that had then but flashed out in a glance or a gesture

She was the old Psyche still; a thousand times more her very self than she had been before the Offering. For all that had then but flashed out in a glance or a gesture, all that one meant most when one spoke her name, was now wholly present, not to be gathered up from hints nor in shreds, not some of it in one moment and some in another. Goddess? I had never seen a real woman before.

…Psyche herself was, in a manner, no one. I loved her as I would once have thought it impossible to love, would have died any death for her. And yet, it was not, not now, she that really counted. Or if she counted (and oh, gloriously she did) it was for another’s sake. The earth and stars and sun, all that was or will be, existed for his sake. And he was coming. The most dreadful, the most beautiful, the only dread and beauty there is, was coming. The pillars on the far side of the pool flushed with his approach. I cast down my eyes.

Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by C.S. Lewis.

March 14, 2013

expect temptation

Two translations of a great piece of advice from Abba Anotny:

Antony once told Abba Pambo: “Don’t worry about what was done in the past.” It was not really a matter of recognizing sins, but of recognizing oneself as a sinner. In so doing, one saw one’s true status before God. And that recognition came not so much from dwelling on past deeds, but on present “thoughts,” those haunting logismoi, that convicted one again and again of one’s status as a sinner. As Antony would put it, “This is a person’s magnum opus: to place guilt [for sins] upon himself and himself alone before God, and to expect temptation up until the last moment of his life.”

Abba Poemen said that blessed Abba Anthony used to say, ‘The greatest thing a man can do is to throw his faults before the Lord and to expect temptation to his last breath.’

November 6, 2012

the present moment is the only possible occasion

The mind is the guardian of memories and fantasies, the past and the future respectively. Memories and fantasies come in two (and only two) varieties: good and bad. This means that all desires (related to keeping good memories and creating good fantasies) and all fears (related to avoiding bad memories and bad fantasies) come within the jurisdiction of the mind.

Unfortunately for the mind, the present moment is the only moment that is, in any sense, real. Moreover, in spiritual terms, the present moment is the only possible occasion in which we can meet God (or anyone else).

From Bread & Water, Wine & Oil by Archimandrite Meletios Webber (20).

November 3, 2012

more intense and reflective perhaps

The most neglected reality in education is the reality of the present moment, of what is happening here and now in the classroom itself.

To speak of the classroom as a place “in which obedience to truth is practied” is to break the barriers between the classroom and the world–past, present, and future. To speak this way is to affirm that what happens in the classroom is happening in the world; the way we related to each other and our subject relfects and shapes the way we conduct our relationships in the world. By this definition of teaching, we practie troth between knowers and the known in the classroom itself.

The class is understood as part of the community of truth–more intense and reflective perhaps than other parts of that community, but related to all the rest. Reality is no longer “out there” but between us; we bridge the gap between learning and living by attending to the living reality of the learning situation.

From chapter 6 of Parker J. Palmer’s To Know as we are Know (88-89).

October 21, 2011

not an object set before us for scientific examination

It is difficult to evaluate the judgments of a past historical period, because we are not “at home” in it to assess its possibilities realistically. But is it any easier to evaluate the judgments of our own? Is it given to us to know our own society more clearly than a past one? Our society is not an object set before us for scientific examination. It is a historical, shifting and changing context, constantly emerging out of a past society and constantly developing into a future one. It is of infinite complexity, and we who assess it are part of it, and assess it from a partial point of view. We may sometimes suspect that there is no more misleading view of a society than the one it takes of itself, a blend of hopeful and despairing self-images, sectional perceptions, and so on.

The Ways of Judgment (Bampton Lectures) by Oliver O’Donovan, page 22.

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