Although my experience tells me that life experience is cyclic, that I am continually heading into a new beginning which necessarily contains within itself an ending, I often sense this feeling of, "been there; done that!" To submit to that feeling can result in great loss of fresh experience, and it is in that experience that a new truth, or a new way of seeing truth, can emerge. As a young man I was perhaps more prone to see the beginnings of things. As a man well past his prime, I suppose I am more prone to see the endings of things. And perhaps that is all right and proper. But I must never forget that both endings and beginnings are always here, that the one cannot be divorced from the other, that in a future final ending is necessarily a final beginning. What a truly wonderful paradox: two diametrically opposed and coexisting phenomena.
There are a number of places in the Bible where one is warned to "...stay awake!..." "...the time is at hand!..." It is to be noted that the admonition is not to wake up, but to stay awake, to keep one's lamp fuelled and ready. As a child being raised in a Christian family, none of this caused me any concern. After all, my spiritual future was assured...wasn't it? What did cause me more than a little concern was such messages as,
"For in those days before the Flood people were eating, drinking, taking wives, taking husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and they suspected nothing till the Flood came and swept them all away. It will be like this when the Son of Man comes. [And here's the crunch line] Then of two men in the fields one is taken, one left; of two women at the millstone grinding, one is taken, one left."
Yet as is so often the case when one reads scripture sensibly and non-literally, that is, by refusing to sink into fundamentalism, there is tremendous hope and reassurance in these lines. These lines tell far more about being taken into a place of fresh understanding, of enlightenment if you will, than being removed [literally] from the face of the Earth whilst all those naughty sinners and backsliders get their come-uppance. That in turn leads one to look up to the future, to enjoy fresh beginnings with all the joy one has, and the exercise of the imagination one can muster. For no cycle repeats itself exactly as before, and in that truth there is always hope.