Broken Dreams

The people of Thailand awoke this morning to find that they are under martial law, although the Army has denied anything as definite as a military coup. The situation in Ukraine seems ever more desperate; and if we look at the countries of North Africa and the Middle East, the ‘Arab Spring’ that so excited Western journalists has turned, by and large, to a bleak and unpromising winter. Not so long ago, the economic ‘growth miracles’ being hailed in Europe and the U.S.A. proved they were no such thing and ushered in a long and dreary period of financial failure and business collapse. Yet still we dream of a better tomorrow. The shape our dream takes is determined by our own ambitions, fears, desires, but the common element is always that the future will be an improvement on the present.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that it can make us complacent or unappreciative of the present. Christians are not immune. As we look forward with hope to eternal life, we can ignore or pay too little attention to what is happening here and now. The ‘sacrament of the present moment’ is one we must all learn to celebrate. We cannot live in the past nor in the future: now is all we have, so we must make sure it is a good ‘now’ — not in any self-indulgent, vapid way, but as the time given us for a reason and a purpose.

St Benedict, as you might expect, has quite a lot to say on this subject. Today, for example, in RB 4. 22–43, he lists among the tools of good works several that concern inner and outer truthfulness and control over one’s appetites. We cannot put off doing good till tomorrow: our salvation must be worked out today. There is an urgency about his insistence on living virtuously because it affects not just us but everyone with whom we come into contact. His prayer towards the end of the Rule is that we may all be brought to everlasting life (RB 72.12). All, without exception. That is a big dream to have, and one that, please God, will not end as broken.

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5 thoughts on “Broken Dreams”

  1. The problem with thinking about a ‘better tomorrow’ is that we as a society hav become too used to the now mentality. Advertisers and businesses promote this thinking relentlessly to sell us the next, or simply ‘upgraded’ product they have come up with.

    Unfortunately, this kind of thinking has become pervasive and extends to a better tomorrow for the lives we lead. We have become impatient to the degree we take the word “tomorrow” too literally. We do not just see it as a metaphore for our future, however distant that might be. Neither are we prepared to make any meaningful sacrifice in the literal ‘tomorrow’, to make a potentially even more rewarding metaphorical ‘tomorrow.

  2. Before I was confirmed in the Church of England I was taught that a sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. The Sacrament of the present moment therefore appeals to me.Allowing Gods grace to work on the inside. I agree that we do need to value each moment and to appreciate the many blessings we enjoy without taking these for granted. With Gods grace that should be achievable. A living hope ( I’m trying to avoid using the word vibrant 🙂 )

    • Sacrament of the present moment: I was quoting Jean de Caussade, ‘Abandonment to Divine Providence,’ one of the comparatively few ‘spiritual’ books I recommend without hesitation.

  3. Lift up my soul Lord in that moment of time when you put to my lips that cup of sweet wine.

    Thank you sister; may all your sacred moments be so many that they are countless, especially joyfully and healing. X

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