Search for Meaning in Moments and Eternity
The meaning of life has always been a subject of intensive speculation by philosophers, theologians, and ordinary people. There are many answers to the same question. It is a question that has many faces. It is a question that pops in and out throughout our lives. Why am I here? What is my purpose?
Those who tackle the question embark on a quest for meaning. Those who do not run the risk of running blindly the race of life. The question, however, is here to stay. There is no single answer to it. Each person has to search for their own answer. Life is not just about finding the answer but also of tackling the question.
The search for meaning can be grouped in many schools of thought. For this reflection, I would like to compare them based on perspective. The first is looking for meaning in the concrete moment of the “now”. The second, is looking for meaning by looking from “above”. The former is championed by those who speak of “carpe diem”, seize the day, or if its more current popular interpretation of the YOLO, you only live once. The latter looks at life from afar where it is seen in its entirety. This view transcends time and culture and looks at our existence in harmony with the rest of the universe.
Life finds meaning in the concrete occurrences of everyday. Meaning and purpose is driven by the experience of the here and now, when one’s senses are enamored by the feelings brought by living in the moment. Each moment counts because each one is a step in our pilgrim journey through time. Each moment is an opportunity to be shaped and formed by the experience. Without embracing the moments of life, life becomes empty, devoid, and bland.
Life finds meaning too when seen before the bigger backdrop of the tapestry of the universe. We see its beginning and end, and realize how fleeting it is, how small and insignificant we are, and how we are but a blip in the cosmic timeframe. Yet in that nothingness, life is becomes truly valuable. In the macroscopic view we see the connections between small things and everything falls in place to give us a better picture of who we are. This is the view of those who look at life from the perspective of eternity and of the life hereafter.
I believe we need both approaches in our search for meaning. To focus on one over another is to miss one of the two dimensions of human existence. We belong both to time and to eternity. We are both body and spirit. If we are to search for meaning then we have to look for it in the vicissitudes of life and in the promise of eternity. You do not only live once, you are also destined to live forever. While the promise of eternity is incomparable, the moments of mortal life defines who we are by our experience of mortality and our daily choices.
This made me realize why Jesus who is God and lives eternally found it worthy to become man and join us in our temporal journey. If the Son of God embraced our way of life then there must be value to it. There must be value to the ups and downs of life and to how we are shaped by our experience of the world in time. Besides this, Jesus also brought eternity with him, so that in Him is the bridge between the now and the hereafter, so that we too can share in His eternal life.
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