precious moments 

  view on my walk home in Asheville

 Though I have never been so lucky as to boast a collection of porcelain figurines with sad, tear-drop eyes, I do have a collection of precious moments, made all the preciouser when I take time to notice that I’m in the midst of one such moment. I thought this a lot when we were in France last summer, wanting to suck up every minute, not losing a beat, not shutting my eyes to any experience–even walking down the street. 

It’s funny, though, the other times that strike me as precious in retrospect usually aren’t exceptional in the moment. Taking an early morning run on Duke’s West campus, walking down Morningside Drive to the place I housesat in Edinburgh, or stopping in at my favorite frozen yogurt store in St. Louis–these mostly mundane experiences are so sweet when I reflect on them now. 

  

This evening I remembered that I’m in the middle of another such moment–this sacred time in the mountains, walking to yoga camp and back to the grocery store, hot, sticky days and cold showers to calm down for bed. Surely I’ll look back on these days with the same affection and warmth that other exceptional adventures have afforded me. 

What’s even more important to realize, though, is that every moment has the capacity to be a precious moment. It doesn’t have to be a far-flung locale, a grand adventure, or any thing out of the “ordinary.”  Every moment, if we approach each one with awe and expectation, can surprise, delight, challenge, and transform us–if we allow it and are open to the change we’ll undergo. 

I’m reminded of the bit of the book,  Screwtape Letters: the present moment is the point at which humans touch eternity. There is great possibility in meeting God, in experiencing growth, in celebrating something precious every single moment, if only we will hold and recognize each moment’s precious offering. 

Quotation of the Day – Amy Grant

Amy Grant Behind the Eyes“It takes a little time sometimes
To get your feet back on the ground
It takes a little time sometimes
To get the Titanic turned back around
It takes a little time sometimes
But baby you’re not going down
It takes more than you’ve got right now
Give it, give it time”

From the 1997 classic, “Takes a Little Time,” by Amy Grant, on her album, “Behind the Eyes”

Two thoughts:
1. Countless hours were spent blasting this from my CD stereo in the driveway, while I choreographed dance routines on my Roller Blades.  So you think you’re a child of the 90’s?

2. Almost 20 years ago, these words reminded me that everything in my adolescent life would be okay, they were my rosary.  Now, they speak to this young woman’s heart, reminding me again how long and slow life sometimes seems, and that maybe that’s a good thing.

screwy time

seibels chapel candles

this morning, I lit the candles in our little chapel for Morning Prayer.  There’s something immediately calming about striking a match, hearing the little snaps of fire starting up, and igniting a waxy wick.

I was instantly transported back four years to the little chapel in Cooperstown, New York, St. Agnes Chapel, where I prayed Morning Prayer with the priest there every morning of the summer for two years.  Many mornings, I’d strike a match and light the candles, first the right one, then the left, just like I did this morning.wp289fa4d0_05_06

For a moment this morning, time collapsed, and I was in both places, in both times, at once.  Time got all stacked up on each other, and I realized that this chronological assumption to which we submit ourselves most of the time (which can sometimes be overwhelmingly oppressive, and maybe even despairing) is a fallacy.

Moments are echoes of each other; when we remember certain moments or phrases or phases, they’re enlivened in a way–a bit of life and light is breathed into them.  So it was this morning when, 2 years into this ordained-ministry-thing, I remembered when I was still at least 2 years away from beginning the ordained-ministry-thing, and though I was coming at the moment from different geographical, psychological, spiritual places, it wasn’t all that different either.

feral days

These are wild, wild days, my friends.

Having misread a description of the days between the Ascension and Pentecost, I momentarily thought that these 10 days were yet another huge party–or camping trip?–we Episcopalians were obligated to enjoy; some sleuthing revealed that they were set aside as totally-boring-normal-common days, “ferial” meaning “free”–as in free-of-a-feast.   A bit more digging uncovered that both “feral” and “ferial” seem to be from the same Latin root, though with exact opposite meanings, depending on how seriously one feasts.

With the deep conviction that how we behave and the things that we do affect who we are and who we become, we try to jump into the Bible and live inside its stories as much as we can.

So what are these in between kind of days here, and what can we learn from them?  What does it mean that Jesus has ascended, but the Holy Spirit hasn’t come yet?  Why didn’t Scripture mash those events all together?  Why was there some time in between?

We’re still in the season of Easter, of feasting and rejoicing over Jesus’ resurrection and the hope and promise of salvation which that event offers to every one of us in every one of our seemingly hopeless situations.  But Jesus isn’t “with us” in the way that we’ve been contemplating since the end of December; Jesus has ascended, not that Jesus was quite as predictably present since his resurrection anyway–with all the surprising appearances out and about.

We’re living in the surprise of the resurrection, the surprise of Jesus’ very fleshy but also mystical appearances, the surprise of his ascension.  Another big surprise is coming down the tubes, we know–Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit–but for this moment, I wonder if we should be overcome with, and be on the lookout for, surprises.

Almost halfway through 2014, what surprises have this year brought in your life?

ending busy-ness

Here’s the secret: just don’t do it.

(easier said than done? sure.)

In January, I made a decision with myself: I’m not describing myself as busy anymore.

Everyone’s busy.  Everyone’s got too much on their plates.  Many people have many more things on their plates than me.  When asked how you are, what you’re up to, or what’s new, how descriptive is “busy” anyway?

It’s been a challenge to think about how else to respond when the question comes, but it’s forced me to be more consistently reflective about how my days and weeks look.  When I can’t come up with an answer, or when the answer seems to cover much less than the time I use in a day, I’m reminded to reevaluate how I’m using my time.  What am I doing all day?  Sometimes I can’t think of an answer because I’ve spent all day responding to emails, or visiting shut-in or hospitalized parishioners–I forget how much time each of these activities can consume (though one is much more rewarding than the other–the one that includes face-to-face time).

This regular invitation to evaluate my life both helps me to be more aware of time, and allows the other person’s question to be something truly meaningful–more than just a formality two people undergo when they meet.

So, if you’re “busy,” what’s below the surface?  If you couldn’t use the word, what would you say instead?  What are YOU up to these days?