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Borrowed Time
Living on Borrowed Time
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The more we try to say precisely what is in our hearts, the more we find that we are speaking for multitudes of strangers the world over. The deeper we get down to our own fundamentals, the more deeply we represent those of other people. Like all human beings, I live on borrowed time. I never know when my time will run out, but I do know that it will run out. I have no way of knowing what tragedies will befall me at the next step, the next ring of the telephone, the next rising of the sun. My notion of spiritual fulfillment is learning how to accept this fate with a ringing affirmation of all that makes life worth living.

The liberal spirit is my inspiration to be a creative, cooperative human being, in spite of the fact that life may crush me at any moment and death may blot me out. As a skeptic about such matters, I cannot comfort myself with supernatural promises. I know that human existence contains irreducible elements of tragedy and incompleteness. I know that I can never really comprehend the totality of things. I am finite. For me the fundamental question of life is not why but how. How shall I live while I live? This is the bedrock question. In answering it, it matters very much what I believe.

About the Author

  • The Rev. Dr. Jack Mendelsohn (1918–2012) was minister emeritus of the First Parish in Bedford, Massachusetts, which he served from 1979 to 1988. He was the thirteenth senior minister of the Arlington Street Church in Boston (1959–1969), when the church was prominent...

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