To some, at least, eternity seems a fearful prospect, a terror of another kind:
A future without completion, conclusion or end. Constant missions — even if new and different, substituting and replacing concluded errands — and, thus, challenges.
Now certainly God has informed us that, for some at least, they will be afforded the opportunity to “enter God’s rest”. And if the body will be changed, so still will the mind — as even the mortal mind is bade to experience renewal of itself — and this could enable a comfortable adjustment to and grateful acceptance of this unexperienced prospect. Yet, by definition, we cannot now transmute our perception into such a state or presently comprehend such an altered consciousness. Consequently, while perhaps it is truly a rest, we still have no way now of so assuring ourselves — and therefore remain in tension.
But are there are other prospects that are equally fearful?
We here treasure and embrace our intimate temporal pursuits and associates (or at least some). Frequently, if not usually, we take for granted those which are closest and most constant because their presence seems so natural and elemental. Only with the prospect of the absence or loss of them do we then appreciate their impermanence, and suffer trepidation and anxiety; we implore that the presence of the pursuit and the creature be extended indefinitely, to provide us the opportunity to better and more fully enjoy them. One wishes then he had had more occasion, perhaps indefinitely, to enjoy the object of this pleasure; and this sentiment can assert itself despite, or perhaps because of, one not neglecting the opportunities he had had to extract a meaningful degree of this pleasure — as the greater the uninterrupted involvement, the greater the perception of this presence as inextricable from one’s own existence. The absence then would intolerably agitate and unsettle, causing one to wonder how they could possibly now adjust and strive onward.
This propensity is generated or enhanced by our inability, or reduced ability, to attune to anything but the present. We by definition can interact only with the present since the past (as far as meaningful to us) no longer exists and the future is unknown. Our senses and sensibilities then can only observe, examine, understand and appreciate that with which we can connect, either tactilely or visually. Since only the present state is “real” to us, then a lofty obstacle, perhaps insuperable, is imposed to truly appreciate a departure from the status quo.
Yet, would not this, the inclination or propensity to avoid mental acknowledgment of the possibility of an interruption of the status quo, be tantamount to eternally experiencing it? Would one truly conceive that one’s delights should be extended but not perpetual, that there should be some ultimate terminus to them? It does not seem that the mind would conceive of such a scenario nor that it could discern any good reason for such a perspective. While it may be unnatural (if not impossible) to contemplate perpetuity, is it not likewise unnatural to contemplate transience and mortality?
Perhaps, then, eternity is not such a fearful prospect after all.
WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
14 Aug 2015