The most powerful and the deepest reality exists where everything enters into the effective action, without reserve the whole man [or woman] and God the all-embracing – the united I and the boundless Thou.
Martin Buber, I and Thou, 89.
The progress of time is exhausting. Seemingly against our will, we’re pushed forward toward growing uncertainty and insecurity. What wonders or terrors lie beyond the boundary of the present? Both terrifying and alluring, the future beckons us forward with greater promises and marvels. That boundary, between present and future, seems impossible to cross. And yet, almost miraculously, we cross that boundary with every passing moment. Both unstoppable and irresistible, the future loses no battles. Through either force or enticement, the future calmly and confidently lures us forward. It leaves us in the purgatory of the future.
The purgatory of the future is the never-ending burden of passage from moment to moment. Weary and spent, we suffer at the hands of an unpredictable future. Such suffering comes from the continual and never-ending crossing between the present and future. And at each crossing, we suffer a little more at the hands of a burdensome future that seems uncaring and indifferent. Ultimately, it grinds and consumes us each at instance we cross from the present to the future. Its promises feel empty, nevertheless it continues to attract us with promises of a better future. It reassures us that “it will be better soon, just wait and see.”
This is what the future feels like for many of us. It’s a liminal existence. Always expecting more, we endure the wearisome task of hoping for a fruitful future. Such a burden is particularly draining for those living in-between. Those in-between the false promises of the future and the burdens of the past. This is the purgatory that the future offers. A ceaseless barrage of false promises and broken narratives.
A liminal theology embraces the present. Such a theology refuses to be held hostage by future dictated by the so-called “Masters of Mankind.” Instead, it’s time to seize the present for the sake of the future. The restoration of hope, and the commandeering of the future, begins in the present.
I envision the day of a truly present theology. Present in both senses of the word. Present in being with and being now. It is the now that most occupies my thoughts. How long must we wait for justice? How long must we wait for equality? How long must we wait for a democratic and free society for all?
How long must we endure the purgatory of the future?