There is an old Zen story about a man who was being chased by a lion, so he jumped off a cliff. After landing on a little ledge about halfway down, he peaked over the edge and saw another lion growling up at him. He then noticed a bowl of fruit on the ledge and so he ate some. The lion above him was his past. The lion below him was his future. The bowl of fruit was his present. In Alcoholics Anonymous they have a saying, “If you have a foot in the past and another in the future, you’ll probably urinate all over the present!”
I often remind myself and my clients that the only day we have is today. Our goal is to make today a good day. If we can make today a good day, and the next, and the next, soon we will have a string of good days that may eventually lead to a good life. So, what should be do with the past? We learn from it so that we don’t make the same mistakes again. We forgive anyone who has harmed us and ask forgiveness for what we have done to hurt others. What do we do with the future? Make a workable plan. The biggest mistake is dwelling too much on the past which is something we can’t change. The next biggest mistake is to fret about the future, which is sure to have its problems. Planning is a good thing, as long as we don’t obsess about it.
Jesus was all in favor of letting go of the past and not obsessing over the future. He didn’t want us to unduly worry. What is forgiveness all about if not the letting go of the past so that we can live in the joy of the present? What is letting go of the worry of future events than so we can live in the joy of the present? Love is something that we can only experience in the present. I can only love today. I can’t say, “I love you yesterday.” Nor can I say, “I love you tomorrow.” Love only exists in the present. We may have been loved yesterday and perhaps in the future, but it only happens today.
My hope is that all of us can let go of the past and the future to the extent that we can enjoy love, joy and peace for a little while. Take a foot out of the past, the other out of the future, and truly live as Gods children today.
“May the Lord bless and keep you. May he let his face shine upon you, be gracious to you and give you his peace.”