When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
The current issue of IN COMMUNION (Pentecost 2009 * Issue 53) has two articles which offer what rationally might be considered almost contradictory images of what it is to be human, but I think them as actually complimentary. They offer two images of humanity that certainly stretch our understanding of what it means to be a human created in God’s image and likeness.
In the first article, Archimandrite Meletios Webber writes in “The Mystery of the Present Moment“:
We can only meet God in the present moment. This is an area where God chooses to place limits on His own power. We choose whether or not to live in the present moment. Because we can encounter God only in that present moment, whenever we live in the past or in the future, we place ourselves beyond His reach.
We can only make decisions in the present moment. We can only enjoy sights and sounds in the present moment. We can only love or hate in the present moment. The present moment is the interface between ourselves and the rest of the universe, and, more importantly, it is the only point of contact between the individual and God. Of all the possible points of time, only the present moment is available for repentance. The past cannot be taken back and remade. The future remains forever outside our reach.
The present moment may appear to be tiny in duration – so much so that the human mind thinks it hardly exists at all – but in depth it is infinite.
In the second article, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware writes in “I Love, Therefore I am”:
Who am I? The answer is not at all obvious. My personhood as a human being ranges widely over space and time. And indeed it reaches out beyond space into infinity, and beyond time into eternity. Our human personhood is created, but it transcends the created order. I am called to be a “partaker of the divine nature,” as Peter said in his second letter. I am called to share, that is to say, in the uncreated energies of the living God. Our human vocation is theosis – deification, divinization. As St. Basil the Great says, “The human being is a creature that is called to become God.”
What is it to be human? To experience God in the present moment which is the only moment we can act in. However in this present moment in God we experience the infinite. God who is beyond time does not search for us in the past or look for us in the future, but He encounters us now, in this moment, the only moment we can take hold of and make something of. The past can be remembered, but it is beyond our reach to return there. The future can be imagined, but it too is beyond our reach. The present moment however is the one which God is willing to turn into an experience of the infinite – if only we are willing to encounter Him.
God promises to forgive us if we repent. He doesn’t promise us the tomorrow to do it in.
He does however eternally offer us the present, now, as the moment for our salvation.