I refer very often to my metaphor of the oasis in the desert, and did so in one of my most recent postings. However, I am afraid that this metaphor is not as clear as it could be, and therefore I am going to illustrate this concept in its entirety with a brief story followed by an explanation. In future I will refer you back to this post whenever the "oasis" is mentioned.
Reina looked around her, all she could see were endless waves of sand. She looked above her, and all she could see was the relentlessly beating sun. She looked at herself, but she had begun to even cease to care what she looked like, and she was no longer any different than the sand. Still, her mind was strong, and she walked on with a determined stride. She focused her gaze directly in front of her, deciding to ignore all else. Doing this, she was sure she would reach an oasis sooner or later.
Time passed, but it did not matter to her... all she could consider was the future and this constant, untiring movement forward. Perhaps she had begun to walk in circles, perhaps she had let herself become dirty and unkept, but she did not care.. there was something she wanted, and until she reached it nothing else mattered. Once or twice, in spite of herself, she looked back... and when she did, there were no footprints where she had tread, no break in the endless waves of sand.
But the day came when she was too tired and footsore to move onward. She began to forget what she was looking for, and began to fall into the belief that all there is to life is the endless movement of the sands. She began to slow down and look around her... a fresh breeze hit her face. She glanced at herself and pulled the hair back from her eyes, and a gentle shower of rain fell on her forehead. She took a moment to think about the rain, and her mind was refreshed with memories. She moved onward... but instead of gazing straight ahead, she began to concentrate on the impressions she was making in the sand. She wiggled her toes until her feet had gone into the cool sand underneath the surface. Instead of trying to move forward as quickly as possible, she took great care to make a perfect impression in the sand with each step. But it was no longer sand... She looked around and saw the oasis.
The beginning of this metaphor speaks a person in a desert, which is meant to translate to a person on earth. The beating sun is meant to be the external conditions of life. The person, Reina, is discouraged in her journey by the sun and the endless desert. Through sheer power of the will she moves on to one destination, meant to indicate a vocation.
The next paragraph shows time passing, and Reina beginning to forget the things that used to matter to her as her concentration becomes wholly engrossed in this destination. This, of course, indicates the relentless pursuit of a vocation and/or heaven... the hopes and dreams to be better than one already is... and the neglect of the present. Reina's look back concludes the effects of this constant pursuit, as the lack of footprints leaves her destitute in an unchanging environment. This concerns our perspective of a past which no longer matters, or a past which brings us only pain, because it has taken place in the desert and not in the oasis: where we have not reached our fulfillment of life in our vocation rather than during our vocation of marriage, etc.
The final paragraph concludes Reina's journey. She begins to realize she cannot find what she is looking for, and returns to the realization of the present. Each step indicates an opening of her eyes to something she had not seen before, and the appreciation in some sense of her current situation. As she begins to focus on each footstep, and making it absolutely perfect, she becomes aware of the oasis.
This final paragraph is a description of our "living" vocation. It is a vocation which is part of our identities and lasts as long as our souls. This vocation, which is destined to love God in its own special way as its final goal, goes beyond the committed states of marriage or virginity. It is a vocation which is fulfilled in each moment of the present. Reina's awareness of the present and care in each movement, without concern for either past or future, opens her eyes to an oasis that was always there. We cannot reach God by pursuing Him in the distance, it is essential to recognize that we are to spend the here and now in constant closeness to Him. Likewise, heaven is not a destination to which we can draw a road map, rather, it is always present and we simply become more aware of it throughout our lives until the veil of materialism is completely drawn with death.
God can see the footprints that are covered by the sand. He does not look in the distance for a time when we will be good, and wait until then for us to please Him... but rather asks for an instant conversion and constant effort to please Him. We can never become worthy of this oasis, and He knows this, but He is willing to give it to us anyway so long as we love Him and lead good lives. For this reason we must never despair, and must always consider the present moment more than we consider our futures on this earth. We must appreciate every moment of life as if it were our last. Ask yourself: "If I died two minutes from now, would I have fulfilled my vocation?" If, in those two minutes, you have loved God... then the answer is yes. Time does pass, and we must go through life and reach destinations, but we do so by traveling in the present. If our intent is to constantly please God, then we will live our vocations to their fulfillment and find our perpetual vocation of love in heaven.