As published in Ambush Magazine 8/28/13
“You do not know the hour or day …” Jesus
When I was a child I would lie in grass and look at clouds. On occasion, somewhat later, I would look up at clouds. Today I glance at clouds with a weather eye and not for the simple joy of finding animals or shapes of faces, clowns, cats, witches and such in clouds coursing by. Innocence lost or business gone awry? One of the clouds that fascinated me the most was “con-trails”, those streams of cloud vapor that follow jets. They follow the plane just so and then with time and distance thy drift and after even greater time begin to breakup and slowly fade away.
Time, like con-trails, slip and move and lay an imprint in heaven. Time is precious and to be cherished. We cannot covet time because it is not ours to own. If we do covet time we may wallow in the past, never be satisfied with an un-written future, or simply wait for “something” to happen. That is what coveting time looks like. There once was a French priest who advised a nun through letters. His name was Jean Pierre de Caussade, S.J. He fashioned a body of work and ideas that called upon his postulant, the nun, to remain focused on the present moment as a moment of grace. That even in washing the dishes or mopping the floors her creator was present. This idea of living such a life is delightfully called “The sacrament of the present moment.”
The idea of living in the present moment and cherishing that moment is not new or unique to Christianity. Phrases like carpe diem, “seize the moment” come to mind. “Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment” Buddha. “Kavana – present-moment focused consciousness” from Hebrew and of the Jewish contemplative tradition; so, what is the point of these musings?
The point is this, that time; the present moment is a gift. We live in it and are always ahead of it or behind it. We anticipate almost every breath and therefore in some way are always just a bit ahead of ourselves. Surrendering to that moment is precious because the truth is that we cannot know what lies ahead. We do not know when our life or the life of another may perish in this world. So life is a gift. What will you and I do with our lives? What are we doing in this present moment? You, of course, are reading AMBUSH! I hope that you are taking in the depth and breadth of this paper even beyond the “hot” bods but rather enjoying the breadth of a community. The broad sweeps found in photos recounting gathering after gathering as social events. From Texas to Georgia, in some way, this very paper is telling a larger story. I know that you may be chuckling a bit at this point saying something like, “Girl does it ever!” That is a good thing.
The lesson to be learned in all of this is that we humans are precious, our lives are precious, and therefore our time is precious. Not because we are busy people and can’t spend the time waiting four hours for our doctor visit but because the person next to you; yes, look, down the bar from you; yes, look, next to you; yes look in bed with you. They are precious as well.
I am not saying that there are not “good” or “bad” people. I am saying that even in light of “good” or “bad” they are precious. The question is what are we doing with ourselves and those around us? If we approach each new day as a gift; if we approach every moment, good and bad, as time given as a gift; if we understand everyone as at least having the possibility of human dignity and godly purpose then perhaps time, like that con-trail might follow us as we soar!
We, at least in our little church, worship with thanksgiving for all that has been given to us and the promise of what may come. We fortify ourselves for just one hour to become one body, one collective that follows the ways of the Rabbi Yeshua (Jesus). We allow in that present moment for the possibility of transformation, of beginning anew.
Yes, it’s time for Decadence again! This bacchanal has become a benchmark for me. It is like Christmas, Easter, and other notable dates. As I get older I find myself saying more often, “it’s already __________!” Time is precious and should be treated as a sacrament and what then shall we do with the time on our hands? How shall we experience and see others with this time on our hands? Stop and take a look around; see through the eyes of one who sees great created beings around them. Not perfect in every way but certainly with potential. Even in our damaged states – potential; even in our ups and downs – potential. Even the most abject human has potential.
Take care on this special Labor Day weekend. Absorb the moment. Treat others as if they have the only had this moment to be near you. Be good to yourselves not with selfishness but rather with selflessness. In so doing and being you cherish what is around you and when you do you will see the face of God and God’s creative work playing out not tomorrow or next week or even yesterday but here now yes even in this dark bar or bright bistro. For we live in “the sacrament of the present moment.”