“The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them for eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.”
– The Screwtape Letters
Screwtape goes on to talk about the various pros and cons of trapping a given “patient” in either the Past, or the Future; the Past, while distracting, is of limited use, he says, because there isn’t much unknown–it’s been experienced, it can draw one off a good path, but it doesn’t take them much of anywhere else. The Future, however, is very fruitful for despair’s handmaids, as tempters may suggest all sorts of fearful, disastrous, unknown, untested events, possibilities, and thoughts, all of which come at an alarming speed, producing a scurrying mind with little connection to reality.
Mindfulness, a practice I suspect our dear mystical brothers and sisters knew well, is fantastically useful in combating the mind’s susceptibility to darting around anywhere except This Moment. Reality, which can sometimes burn us with its brightness, might make us want to run behind the dark shadow of the Past, or to find tasty unreality in the Future, but it is only in living in the bright reality of the present moment that its healing heat can transform us (in this Church season of Epiphany, the bright truth of God’s love shines hot on humanity through the person of Jesus Christ).