On this eve of the twelfth Doctor’s advent (one sleep to go) I found myself recalling a scene from The Day of the Doctor. The War Doctor, the Warrior, has decided to end the Time War by triggering The Moment, a weapon of utter destruction that will end not just the Daleks but the Time Lords and all of Gallifrey itself.
But The Moment has become sentient and, sharing the Warrior’s struggle with his conscience, appears to him as his future companion, Rose Tyler (the Bad Wolf herself).
As the Warrior contemplates the consequences of pushing the Big Red Button, she says,
MOMENT: You know the sound the Tardis makes? That wheezing, groaning. That sound brings hope wherever it goes.
WARRIOR: Yes. Yes, I like to think it does.
So I was struck again by what it means to the Doctor’s companions and to all the peoples he saves and even to his enemies whenever he arrives in their particular moment of need, in their present. A man like us yet not like us, possessed of two natures, with two hearts and 2000 years old, steps into our lives and stands with us for our good. Knowing all that came before us and all that lies in store for us, knowing the worst of us, he chooses to continue his work of saving us from all our foolishness and to help us on our way, making us, as he always will, better for knowing him.
As a parable of Jesus, the Eternal Son of God, who stooped into Time from Eternity and took our nature into himself, took our Sin upon himself and experienced our own frail heartbeat alongside his own for a moment in time , this is helpful to me.
The One who said, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty, the first and the last, the beginning and the end’, becomes our eternal present, the most important Moment of our life, the one in whom, ‘we live and move and have our being’ and the one who says to us, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’
I like to think that, in his humanity, in the days of his flesh, this was wisdom Jesus acquired through his contact with us, with his family in particular, but also with his companions and even his enemies; his understanding that we are prone to worry about our future most of all. We can recall our past and we may fret over it, or we may regret it or we might even puff ourselves up with pride over it, but we cannot see our future with anything like the same clarity. It is our present in which we are designed to live and in which, says C.S.Lewis, we have an experience analogous to the experience which God has of reality as a whole.
This begins to make sense to us in that moment when we find ourselves ‘in Christ’, inside the Eternal, wrapped up ‘in the bundle of the living in the care of the Lord (our) God’. Finding ourselves living in the one who is the beginning and the end of everything (and so in whom all our own time line has been written beforehand) we begin to realize that all our tomorrows, our future, already exists and has always existed, eternally, in him. No wonder he tells us there is no need to worry and no wonder that we find it all so hard to grasp but, like the Doctor’s companions, we are not left alone in our present. We are blessed to know his presence with us and even though there are moments when we feel more as though he is absent, when we fail to live up to him, we find ourselves, in time, living better for knowing him.
C.S.Lewis writes about our experience of time in The Screwtape Letters when the demon Screwtape says, ‘The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present—either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.
Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present. With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human (say a widow or a scholar) to live in the Past. But this is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past and it has a determinate nature and, to that extent, resembles eternity. It is far better to make them live in the Future. Biological necessity makes all their passions point in that direction already, so that thought about the Future inflames hope and fear. Also, it is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time—for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays.’
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.’
Matthew 6:34a ESV