The holy Now is not something which we, by our activity, by our dynamic energy, overtake or come upon. It is a now which itself is dynamic, which lays hold actively upon us, which breaks in actively upon us and re-energizes us from within a new center. The Eternal is urgently, actively breaking into time, working through those who are willing to be laid hold upon, to surrender self-confidence and self-centered effort, that is, self-originated effort, and let the Eternal be the dynamic guide in recreating, through us, our time-world.
In the Eternal Now all become seen in a new way. We enfold others in our love, and we and they are enfolded together within the great Love of God as we know it in Christ. In the Now, people aren’t just masses of struggling beings, furthering or thwarting our ambitions, or, in far larger numbers, utterly alien to and insulated from us. We become identified with them and suffer when they suffer and rejoice when they rejoice. One might almost say we become cosmic mothers, tenderly caring for all.
The Eternal Now breaks through the time-nows and all is secure. A sense of absolute security and assurance of being linked with an overcoming Power replaces the old anxieties. All things of value are most certainly made secure through Presence. Faith, serene, unbroken, unhurried world-conquest by the power of Love is a part of peace.
For the experience of Presence is the experience of peace, and the experience of peace is the experience not of inaction but of power, and the experience of power is the experience of pursuing Love that loves its way untiringly to victory. The one who knows the Presence knows peace, and the one who knows peace knows power and walks in complete faith that that objective Power and Love which has overtaken him will overcome the world.
When we lived in the one-dimensional time-ribbon we had to think life out all by ourselves. The past had to be read cautiously, the future had to be planned with care. Nothing was to be undertaken unless the calculations showed that success was to be expected. No blind living, no marching boldly into the dark, no noble but ungrounded ventures of faith. We must be rational, sensible, intelligent, shrewd. But then comes the reality of the Presence, and the Now-Eternal is found to underlie and generate all time-temporals. And a life of amazing, victorious faith-living sets in. Not with rattle and clatter of hammers, not with strained eyebrows and tense muscles but in peace and power and confidence we work upon such apparently hopeless tasks as the elimination of war from society, and set out toward world brother/sisterhood and interracial fraternity in a world where all the calculated chances of success are very meager.
Thus in faith we go forward, with breath-taking boldness, and in faith we stand still, unshaken, with amazing confidence. For the time-nows are rooted in the Eternal Now, which is a steadfast Presence, an infinite ocean of light and love which is flowing over the ocean of darkness and death.
Thomas Kelly was a Quaker whose passion for the depths of faithful living is shared in the book, A Testament of Devotion, compiled by Douglas Steere in 1941 following Kelly’s sudden death at age 47. This piece is an excerpt from that book, with thanks to Inward/Outward...
I think Thomas Kelly has put his finger on much that we fail to understand in the life of prayer. If we look at time, or rather eternity - that which is beyond time - in this way, it makes sense of so much about praying beyond our own knowledge, or awareness even: "We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." (Romans 8.26 NIV) Our being enfolded together in Christ with all we love and care about, all the broken ones whom we cry out for in uncomprehending pain, are brought into our prayer by our very nature as, "We become identified with them and suffer when they suffer and rejoice when they rejoice. One might almost say we become cosmic mothers, tenderly caring for all." This is all I've ever longed for prayer to be!