Today Christians mark the feast of St. John, “Apostle and Evangelist.” There is much commentary about this companion of Jesus, the one known as “the beloved disciple” who was at his side at the Last Supper and the Crucifixion and figures prominently in the Resurrection narratives. His own gospel passage of the Resurrection is read at services today (JN 20: 1-8) and seems a bit out of place for two days after the feast of the birth of Jesus. Because of this telescoped view of the beginning and end of the life of Jesus, I was brought to a consideration of the concept of time.
We know, of course, the beginnings and ends of things that have happened in the past. We live as well as we can the present time in which we live. Because of present events we may be looking toward the future with expectation or anxiety, but ultimately it makes the most sense to live in the moment we are in. As many wise people have said in different ways, the present is the only moment we are sure of, the only one in which we are confident that we can change or choose. An internet post from a site called exactlywhatistime.com was quite prolific in its definitions that began by saying the following.
Time is something we deal with every day, and something that everyone thinks they understand. However, a compact and robust definition of time has proved to be remarkably tricky and elusive.
Before I get too bungled up in philosophical wanderings, let me suggest that the best way for me to look at time is the one that will allow me to look kindly on the past from which I have learned lessons in living well, the present in which I garner deeper understanding and gratitude each day and the future to which I look with hope for ever better applications of what I have learned.
I am still left wondering, however, about the juxtaposition of gospel passages from Christmas to Resurrection events this week. Are we meant, do you suppose, to live everything in the present, to contain all experiences at this moment? A question for physicists perhaps…What do you think?