Time to Eternal

Everyone hustles his life along, and is troubled by a longing for the future and weariness of the present.

Seneca. ON THE SHORTNESS OF LIFE.

The ambitious, fearful, and simply those overwhelmed with desires, are always outside the present.  They sit on the future; they push away the present.  Seneca defines what he means by the present by drawing ellipses to the words future and then back to the word hustles.  Both these words link to the word life, where life is caught in the future, caught in hustling.

Everyone nudges life along, everyone hustles life along, as if it weren’t doing that already.  Without coercion, life rolls and takes time with it.  Seneca stops the ball from rolling, and asks, “why do we want to leave right now so urgently?”

C.S. Lewis has words about the present, or should I say Screwtape does at least.  In the Screwtape Letters, we find Screwtape, a sinister follower of the Devil, giving advice to his underling Wormwood.  Breaking off into a salvo on the Enemy’s (i.e. Gods) ways, Screwtape says,

The humans live in time, but our Enemy destines them to eternity.  He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself and to that point of time which they call the Present.  For the present is the point at which time touches eternity.

It is that last sentence that brings us back to Seneca:  the present is the point at which time touches eternity.  For as Screwtape would strategize, if the present is the closest a human can be to eternity, then he would like to keep one furthest from it.  Exactly how, well, that is hard to say.

Screwtape is not a book, he is not easy to read.  But he is hermeneutic.  He looks at the circles of life, searching for boundaries that turn gray.  One gray area, one might think, is a general fatigue, weariness, etc. of the present.  “Flee”, I imagine Screwtape say, “flee before it’s too late.”

But, if so, then I am also reminded of the Proverb,

The wicked flee when no one pursues,

but the righteous are bold as a lion.

Proverb 28:1

There is something terrifying about the present if it is the point where time meets eternity.  For it is a place to meet God.  It might be a place for some to flee, but I wonder was anyone chasing them away?  If so, who?

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About Rene Diebenkorn

Lifetime Artist. ETC.

2 comments

  1. I find your intuition that there is something frightening about the present a good one. I suspect we flee the present more than the present flees us, for all its supposed ephemerality. Thanks for giving me something so useful to think about.

    • O thanks so much for the comment! I feel honored you stopped by! As I was writing this, and thinking about it, I wondered how Seneca and Lewis stumbled upon the idea. I wish I could have been there beside them as they each unfolded the idea.

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