Chaplain's thought for the week
Best day of my life
What’s been the best day of your life?
For me, some of the top contenders would be white water rafting on the source of the river Nile, my wedding day, and the days on which my children were born. Most of us, I guess, wouldn’t pick yesterday… and most of us wouldn’t pick today.
Contrast that though to a dog’s calendar… For a dog, every day is the best day of their life – it’s certainly true for my dog! There’s no hankering after days in the past with nostalgia; there’s no looking ahead to a time in the future which will be better than today. Every day, there’s the same waggy tail, the same eager expectation for a great day lived in the present moment.
And yet we humans don’t find this anything like so easy. We’re always either looking back, looking ahead, or trying to hang onto some passing experience. What we need is some of the dog’s eager expectation that today is going to be a good day.
That doesn’t mean that we need to be falsely cheerful; it doesn’t mean that we sweep bad emotions under the carpet; it doesn’t mean that we won’t go through difficult times. What it means is that we try to make the best out of each day we have, to see every day as a full of possibilities to be enjoyed; it means that instead of constantly looking back to the past or ahead to the future, we try to live for each moment we have.
In his teaching Jesus encourages people not to worry about tomorrow, but instead to focus on today. He says that he has come to offer people ‘life in all its fullness’, which is a gift we can only receive in the present moment.
The poet T. S. Eliot wrote these quite philosophical lines: ‘Time past and time future / What might have been and what has been / Point to one end, which is always present.’
The present moment is all we have.
It’s all too easy, I think, to see life as a bit of a treadmill, with so many things that we have to do that we can forget to really live our live. The American poet, Mary Oliver, asks this: ‘Listen - are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?’