How many times have you heard advice like: “Don’t dwell in the past. Don’t look too much to the future. Just enjoy the ride where you are?”
These are words that wise ones like to offer us, especially if we find ourselves in a life funk.
We’re told that the present moment is all we have! Live today to the full! Carpe Diem. For even Jesus advised to “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself” (Matthew 6:34).
Once a mentor told me if I couldn’t mediate with my eyes open wherever I was then, I’d completely lost touch with a sense of self.
So with all of this true, looking forward to something in the future is just heretical talk. Setting your eyes on something that will bring you pleasure in the future is called not really living. Anticipation is a bad word.
Yet, today, in this blog post, I want to object.
As much as I agree with “wherever you are be fully there” talk . . .
I don’t know where my mental state would be without the gift of anticipation.
For to have my calendar full of opportunities to experience joy with people I love, there’s really nothing better than that! It’s abundant living. It’s life on the edge of blooming. What beauty!
And as Albert Camus once said: “…We need the sweet pain of anticipation to tell us we are really alive.”
I know I’m fully alive when I’m anticipating something, I’m claiming my place in the land of what it means to be a human being. Anticipation is giving feet to the prayer: “The best is yet to be.”
Or in other words, anticipation is a reason to get out of bed and do not only things with daily deadlines but to prepare for what might come later. People who are depressed can’t do this. But those with hope for the future can!
Recently, I found myself re-reading a part of the Henri Nowuen classic The Wounded Healer and found myself captured by this quote. I wrote it down and came back to it often for several weeks:
“Hope prevents us from clinging to what we have and frees us to move way from the safe place and enter the unknown and fearful territory.”
I love these words because it’s another way to speak of anticipation. If we want to be a hope-filled people, then none of us can seek to preserve, defend and protect what we have. Nope! Our calling is to move toward the unknown.
It’s a scary place to be, though. Living life with anticipation (especially if you’ve known the deep pains of disappointment) is placing your heart on the table. It’s saying again, “This is important to me.” Or “You are important to me.”
Anticipation’s excitement does not look back! And while the knowns of the past or present feel safer, anticipation helps you in the words of Mary Oliver to “leave some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”
Anticipation holds our hand as we lean toward what is not yet.
If you want to know where my heart is these days, I have one word for you. It’s anticipation. It’s the sweetness of believing good is on its way though I have no idea what it will look like or when it will come.
The anticipation I have is so sweet I can taste it though I’m still here in the moment called today.
What are you looking forward to? After all, as Christians, we are an Easter people. Resurrection is always on its way even as we are in Lent.