Yet often we live somewhere else. With thoughts of the past and concerns about the future, we rob ourselves of a full experience of the present. Although the past is over and the future is never quite here, our minds are usually so involved with one or both of them that the present serves very little function except to form a bridge between the two.
There is another way to focus our minds, claiming more fully our experience of being alive in the moment. The cultivation of stillness, of a sense of the sacred in every instant, is a radically different perspective from the speedy ride of linear time that dominates our world. Living fully in the moment is key to both personal and spiritual liberation. To be set free of our obsessions with the past and future is to be free of the chains that bind us to them. We do not heal the past by dwelling there; we heal the past by living fully in the present. We do not secure a better future by living in the future; we secure a better future by living full and well in the present. Time weighs heavy upon us, until timelessness lifts us and sets us free.
Faith in a positive life force, which is the essence of a spiritual perspective, presents the possibility that we can afford to relax and just let life be. Until we do that, the moment in which we live gives neither comfort nor sustenance, insight nor wisdom. Worst of all, perhaps, is that it gives no joy. We cannot find peace by seeking it in a past we cannot change or by seeking it in a future we cannot control. Peace can be found only in the present, in which we deeply accept all of life–what was, is and will be.
Living in the present does not mean surrendering our responsibility to correct some things from the past or to plan and make way for the future; in fact, it is the ultimate taking of responsibility for both. The only point where God's time–eternity–meets time as we know it is in the present moment. And in that place of power, both past and future are healed.
To enter the mystery of timelessness is to enter the sanctuary of the heart, where we are given a chance at every moment to begin our lives again. Not one of us is perfect, and sorrows press upon us all. But the universe is a merciful one, in which unlimited opportunities for new beginnings are built into the very essence of things. If we miss the moment, we miss the clues. We miss the comfort. We miss the love. In the present, when we allow ourselves to fully live there, we are restored, made wiser, made deeper and happier. There is nowhere else we want to go, except into another present moment as peaceful as the last. We have placed the future in the hands of God, who knows much more what to do with it, how to plan it and how to care for it than we do.
What would it really take to make you happy?