Mankind has always realized that there is something fearful about the flux of time, a riddle which we cannot solve, and the solution which we cannot stand. We came from the past which is no more; we go into the future which is not yet; ours is the present. The past is ours only in so far as we have still the present; and the future is ours only in so far as we have it already present. We possess the past by memory, and the future by anticipation. But what is the nature of present itself? If we look at it closely, we must say: it is a point without extension, the point in which the future becomes the past; when we say to ourselves, “This is the present,” the moment has already been swallowed by the past. The present disappears the very instant we grasp it. The present cannot be caught; it is always gone. So it seems we have nothing real—neither the past nor the future, nor even the present. Therefore there is a dreaming character about our existence, which the psalmist indicates, and which the religious visionaries have described in so many ways.
…There is another element…mystery, which makes us look into the future; for time does not return, nor repeat itself: it runs forward; it is always unique; it ever creates the new. There is within it a drive toward an end, unknown, never to be reached in time itself, always intended and ever fleeing. Time runs toward the future eternal. This is the greatest mysteries of time. It is the mystery of which the prophets, Christ, and the apostles have spoken. The eternal is the solution of the riddle of time. Time does not drive toward an endless self-repetition, nor to an empty return to its beginning. Time is not meaningless. It has a hidden meaning--salvation. It has a hidden goal--the Kingdom of God. It brings about a hidden reality--the new creation. The infinite significance of every moment of time is this: in it we decide, and are decided about, with respect to our eternal future.
The Shaking of the Foundations
My Caramba. Tillich says it all.