Photo credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScl, Carina Nebula
Within time, we are aware of past, present, and future.
Within eternity, we are aware of what was, what is, what is to come. Or, in Jesus, of the One who was and is and is to come.
These are not the same.
Whenever we carry the past with us, it is a burden. This week, I have sat with a family who have been haunted for five generations by a baby stillborn almost ninety years ago. Such generational post-traumatic distress is not unusual. The future harbours as many ghosts again.
When we carry eternity in our hearts, that is to say, when we consciously choose to dwell on what was (and is and is to come, held by God) rather than on the past (present, and future) then we experience life in its fullness.
This week we have seen incredible images from deep space, the labour wards of stars, light long vanished still shining. We have already come to know that the dust referenced in the words
Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return
is stardust, and not only the soil beneath our feet. That we are part of something far more vast than we can ever imagine. What was and is and is to come.
More wonderful still, we are loved, and can return love; a four-score-years perfection, billions of years in the making. In one of the great prayers of thanksgiving offered when we break bread and share wine (Eucharistic Prayer F) we declare:
Lord God, you are the most
enthroned in splendour and light,
yet in the coming of your Son Jesus Christ
you reveal the power of your love
made perfect in our human weakness.
May you know that your frail body carries eternity, that our biographies are more than histories. May you know the love of Christ this day, and for ever.