Near the
end of Toni Morrison’s novel, Beloved,
Paul D., a freed slave, tells Sethe, a woman who escaped slavery but remains
haunted by her memories of it: “Me and you, we got more yesterday than
anybody.  We need some kind of tomorrow.”

We can be chained
to yesterday by regrets over opportunities we’ve missed, by hurts we’ve suffered
and inflicted, by resentment over unfairness we’ve experienced, by grief over
losses we’ve sustained, by guilt over sins we’ve committed, or by shame over
inadequacies we’ve felt. 

We can also
be tied to the past by the golden strands of remembered happiness.  Yesterday is our Camelot, our Never-land, or
our Land of Oz.  Sometime before now,
things were better.  Somewhere other than
here, we felt more at home.

Many people
spend their present moments on the past. 
They live in the pages of their high school yearbooks, remembering when
they were young people with promise rather than middle-aged adults with a
track-record.  They sort-through a “hope
chest” filled with love-letters from a relationship once filled with romance
and laughter.  They pore over portraits
of their children from days when the problems were simpler and the delights
were plainer to see. 

We can be bound to the past either by disappointment or nostalgia.   Either
way, our lives are almost completely about “yesterday” and hardly at all about “today”
or “tomorrow.”

A friend of
mine described a profound and simple experience she had with Jesus.  In a moment of quiet reverie—one of those
rare times when she was still and quiet—Jesus appeared to her, saw that she was
carrying a cross-shaped burden of worries and fears, put his shoulder under the
load with her, and took her hand.  Her burden
then felt so light, and the joy in Jesus’ eyes was so bright, that she felt
surging in her enough energy, not just to walk, but to run, to skip, and to

did.  She and Jesus, like small children
who delight in the present, skipped and sang down the road.  Some of us
fear that we have run out of road, that we have only the miles we’ve already
covered, and that yesterday was the last bright day.   We
worry that the burden we carry will keep us from making the rest of the journey,
because we’re not strong enough to carry it.

I trust, though, that Jesus comes to us, as he did to my
friend, adds his energy to our faltering strength, takes us by the hand, and
dances with us into the future, wherever it takes us.