Tag Archives: Kingdom of God

A Meditation on Time, Eternity and God

12 Dec

A Facebook friend of mine was commenting on the following meme I had copied and shared from a blog run by the Passionists, a Roman Catholic religious order. The quote, which I find to be simple but profound encapsulation of one of the central truths taught by all the great religious traditions, was authored by Bil Keane, the cartoonist who created the much beloved comic strip “Family Circus.” Here it is:

My friend wrote the following comment in response:

I just read, recently in fact, that Einstein didn’t believe in “Now;” he didn’t believe there was a past, present, or future, that all time was “one.” I get dizzy trying to grasp that.

But then, do you know you can never really TOUCH anything? Has to do with those pesky electrons; since they repel one another they keep all your molecules from bumping into each other. What that has to do with “past, present, or future,” well, probably doesn’t. But I thought that was interesting, like Einstein’s disbelief in “Now.”

(I like the sentiment of that quote though.)

I, in turn, responded “…Bro…you are not far from the Kingdom of Heaven, or Enlightenment…Oh, and btw, the notion of the insubstantiality of everything is a fundamental tenet of Buddhism.” My retort was offered only partially in jest.

My friend inspired me to look up a long quote I copied in my journal (way back in June of 1989) from a philosopher and mathematician named Charles Muses during an interview of him I was watching on PBS. He, fact, wrote a book containing an extended meditation on Time. I never did read that book, but I will present here my personal thoughts as I recorded them in my journal, those being inspired directly by what Charles Muses said during the interview.

I wrote:

“Zero is beginning of the ruler. It is not to be equated with nothing. Zero is real, is something. (“Nothing” is just that: no-thing!)

We have been brainwashed by modern logic to equate the two (zero = nothing). Thus we cannot conceive or believe the notion of God existing beyond or at the edge of creation. To transcend creation is to find that the “edge of the ruler” is GOD!”

And finally, I concluded my little meditation with this little aphorism I wrote, again inspired by what Charles Muses had said:

“Be present to this moment in Time, for it cradles the entire universe.

As I look back, I can see that this processing of what I head heard in this interview represented for me a kind of epiphany, a watershed moment, one in which my attempt to finally free myself from the shackles of Western dualism was coming to full flower. I was on the verge then of forging a mature synthesis (or perhaps a better word would be reconciliation) of the western metaphysics that had grounded my Christian worldview and theology with that of the metaphysics of the Oriental mindset, especially as found within the Buddhist traditions. This attempt to reconcile the two was a philosophical and spiritual pursuit that occupied me greatly over the next two decades, and to some degree even up to the present.

If you have followed my blog for sometime, you may recognize many of these same themes — of Time, eternity, God, and being mindfully present to the moment — often emerge in many of the essays and poems I have posted here since I first began this blog a couple of years ago. And you can be assured that I will continue to flesh these thoughts out more in the future!

As always, your thoughts, questions and comments are welcome and encouraged.

An Appropriate Prayer for Election Day: “Step Back And Take the Long View”

2 Nov

On this day of the 2010 mid-term elections, I am shortly going to fulfill my civic and spiritual duty by voting my conscience. I will then join others in the effort to encourage other citizens to do the same by making phone calls and/or canvassing neighborhoods. As I embark, I frankly find my characteristic optimism in danger of giving way to despair concerning the probable outcome of this election as I envision the possibility of a rather bleak future for my children and country. Clearly at stake in this election is the election of officials that will assert their power to stem the tide of racism and xenophobia, economic and ecological calamity, the threat of assaults on civil rights and basic freedoms, and an almost certain roll back of some of the much needed health care reforms.

Deep down I realize that, regardless of whatever the immediate voting results might be, I am seeking to join myself with a larger current of grace and providence that trancends not only myself, but even the army of good people involved in effecting positive political change. In the end, as a Christian it is incumbent on me to humbly seek God’s Kingdom and will. Victory is assured. No effort born of a love of Truth and Justice, and motivated by a compassionate concern for my fellow human being and creatures of the earth, will be in vain. I must abandon my fears and renounce even the fruits of my own efforts, patiently trusting in God’s grace to guide this mess to his own end.

Today, then, I offer a prayer written by Roman Catholic Bishop Kenneth Utner for a homily read by Bishop Deardon in 1979. It was preached shortly after the assignation of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who had been assassinated in El Salvador for his stance in solidarity with the poor of that country against the rich and powerful there. The prayer so reflects the spirit and tone of Romero’s own spiritual vision, it is often erroneously attributed to him. With a little adjustment, I find it a perfect prayer to make my own.


It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
in realizing that. This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well. It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

Amen.