“She went out, closing the door softly. Outside in the passage that led to the garden she stood with her hands pressed to her aching temples and tried to think what she had to do next. Robin was bathed and in bed and Zelle comforted, the chicken was in the oven and the vegetables ready, and Mrs. Wilkes was laying the table and had promised to stay and wash up, providing they were punctual in coming to supper. Mr. Weber! He was the next thing. She didn’t look forward to him very much, but she must try and take him without fear, with no before or after. When one was well the next thing flowed in so easily and naturally, but when one was tired to death it sent before it a wave of nervous apprehension. Would one be able to manage? Would one make a mess of it? Was it going to be just the last straw which would break one down completely? Engulfed in this fear, Sally had taught herself to think of the next thing as though it were the last thing. Just this one more thing and then no more. If it were the last thing, then it did not seem too hard to rally one’s forces just once more. Obliteration of the future seemed to lead to obliteration of the past too, and there could be a sense, she knew, in which this living for the moment only could be evil. It could be license, and then the destruction of past and future was a betrayal of both. But when you took the moment in your hands as selflessly as you were able, past and future were not so much destroyed as gathered into it in one perfect whole, and living for it was not destructive but creative. The moment was no longer the last thing but the one thing, and so nothing else mattered and one would not fail.
She opened the garden door and went into a world which the wind and the rain had swept and cleansed and then left to a happy loneliness. Each flower, each leaf, burning with colour in the streaming light from the west, was held in such a stillness that it seemed alone, and yet by its very loneliness a more integral part of the immensity of light. Sally stood and bathed in light and felt herself made new. The loneliness of each leaf and flower was like the loneliness of each next thing. It was all there was, and yet it was part of a whole whose before and after was the circle of eternity.”
~From The Heart of the Family, By Elizabeth Goudge