|Chapel at Clyde Motherhouse of Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration|
“No one who sets a hand to the plowand looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62These words of Jesus were spoken to those who wanted to accept his invitation to follow him but needed to attend to family business first. The traditional meaning is simple: Entering into the new life of the Spirit and announcing the Kindom of the Divine One requires a complete conversion, a turning to a new life and walking on a new path. There cannot be any halfway, part time commitment here.
Perhaps because I am reading Richard Rohr's The Naked Now, some other meanings arise for me. It is easy enough to understand that looking back to another time can be distraction for the work of the disciple. It is not just because it consumes energy not focused on the mission but because it splits our attention between now and then. Thinking about how things were--no matter whether good or bad--takes us out of being presence to the way things are right now and that seems to one of the central features of an authentic spiritual life.
But it is also true that thinking about how things will be in the future can take us away from being present. Think of a discussion in which you are always thinking about what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. It is impossible to listen to what is being said while doing that. Much as we would like to believe otherwise, our brains are not wired to do more than one thing at a time. What we call multi-tasking is really just constantly switching from one thing to another and back again. We actually become less productive, not more.
Our role in the kindom of the Divine One demands and requires our full presence to whatever reality is ours at the time. No wistful glaces backward or forward.