May 30 – A String of Todays – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

If not now, when?

Since surviving cancer, there is a burning bit of truth I live with every day. Sometimes it doesn’t let me sleep, but most of the time, it brings me great joy. No one uttered this to me, and I didn’t arrive at it or work at it. It just revealed itself, the way a broken bone makes us re-feel the immense pressure of air. And this bit of truth is, If not now, when?

It keeps coming down to this: There is no tomorrow, only a string of todays. Still, like most of us, I was somehow taught to dream forward, to fill the future with everything that matters: Someday I will be happy. When I am rich, I will be free. When I find the right person, then I will know love. I will be loving and happy and truthful and genuine then.

By almost dying seared the sense of future from me, and through I expect to live a very long time, though I make plans and look forward to many things I plan, I have no choice but to dream now.

I start out, as I always have, pouring the best of me into an imagined time yet to be, but then I hear, If not now, when? and the best of me floods back to the only place it truly knows – Now.

This all helps me understand a story about Jesus very differently. I’m thinking of the young, rich merchant who approaches Jesus after his Sermon on the Mount. He admires Jesus so, is truly touched, and wants to join him. So he asks with great sincerity what he needs to do, what arrangements need to be made.

Jesus opens his arms and says, “Come with me now. Drop everything and come.”

The young merchant stumbles and cites his many “yes, buts”: he can’t leave his business so suddenly. He has to leave word. He’ll need to gather fresh clothes. How much money should he bring?

With open arms, Jesus simply says one more time, “Come with me now.”

How often do we all rehearse this moment, putting off love, truth, joy, and even God, citing our many “Yes, buts” to ourselves, when all we have to do – hard and simple as it is, is to drop everything and Come Now.

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