March 2015 - Essay on the Eternal

Rev. Ric Schumacher

 

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow:  Part 1

Receiving the Gifts of God - A Covenant in Three Parts

 

          Recently I caught up with an old friend. Years ago, we spent a great of time together. Time passes and priorities change so we have had less time together. After my automobile accident in September we reconnected. The reconnection took place over coffee and with a group of guys so you can imagine there was a mix of “you are lucky to be alive” and some good-natured ribbing. My old friend even steered the discussion to a debate over FedEx trucks vs. UPS trucks. At that point it became clear to everyone present that I ran into a FedEx truck.

          Days later, I spoke privately with my old friend and he asked, "What did you learn from this experience"? My answer came swiftly. I said, "Every day is a gift." My friend was in full agreement and in fact added to my insight with these words. "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift." I was taken aback his words; I had not expected such wisdom from him. Maybe I was thinking of the man I knew years ago. His wisdom deepened my insight. I needed to know who might have said this first. I found that the full quote often reads: "The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift [of God]. That's why it is called the present." Some versions insert "of God" as I did in the brackets above. Original authorship is a bit fuzzy. The quote has been attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. Researchers found the quote in the 1902 book, "Sun Dials and Roses of Yesterday: Garden Delights..." by Alice Morse Earle. Still others have found similar sentiments in much earlier writings. Maybe there is a more important question than who said it first.

          The more important question is how can I live as if every day is a gift of God? This answer requires multiple parts. First, I love the play on words that equate the gift of today with a present. When I was in elementary school I had a seat next to the window. I took my seat and the teacher called the roll and when she called out my name I said “Here.” I was present and in my place. The lesson began; the teacher offered the gift of arithmetic. My attention was quickly drawn out the window to the squirrels scampering through the maple trees. I was present (in my seat) but not present (attentive) to the gift before me. The new thought world teaches the importance of being present to the gifts of the moment. All too often, our attention is drawn to some future event or some past event. I could make a case for giving my attention to the gift of nature rather that the gift of arithmetic, but I’m sure we know that I was thinking about a future recess and playing outside. I was present but not present to the present.

          A covenant is an agreement; theologically it is an agreement that brings about a relationship of commitment between God and the maker of the covenant, in this case me. A covenant can be understood as a contract, agreement, undertaking, commitment, guarantee, warrant, pledge, promise, bond; pact, deal, settlement, arrangement, or understanding. For my covenant to have its fullest effect in my life it must be renewed each day. Therefore all three parts of my covenant begin with the word “Today”. Part one of my covenant reads as follows:

Today, I will be attentive to the multiple gifts of God that this day offers. Today, I will express deep gratitude to the One Source of all gifts; and recognizing that those gifts often come through known and unknown individuals, I will joyously and gratefully acknowledge His chosen channels. Today, I acknowledge that the gifts of today can come wrapped in beautifully decorated paper and tied with silky ribbon or wrapped in plain brown paper and tied with simple string. Today, I will receive each gift joyously, enthusiastically and gratefully without regard to how it is wrapped. Today, I will be present to the present moment and its presents. Today, I will continuously acknowledge the presence of God active in my mind and heart as the greatest of all gifts.

Please consider joining me in this covenant so that we might enjoy all of the gifts of God that are freely available to us today. Parts two and three of this covenant to follow in future issues of Essays on the Eternal.

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