Has the dreary cold weather dampened your spirits? Have long days stuck inside the same four walls with (perhaps) the same faces made you a little stir crazy? It certainly has been longer than any of us imagined, with the same uncertain future. I’m sure you’ve seen this funny meme:
2020 is a unique leap year:
It has 29 days in February
300 days in March
And 5 years in April.
Funny, but in a painful way. This week, I want to encourage us all to take a different perspective on Time, by trying to seek the infinite in the finite. I know we’re not born mystics. Modern life demands that we run a quite a pace, multitasking and staying product-oriented. But wisdom has always pointed us to process over progress, journey over destination. As Christians, made and loved by a God who exists outside of time, the closer we come to him, especially in simple, daily moments, the more fully we participate in his eternal Kingdom. Remember? His timing is not our timing: “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Peter 3:8
My mom was a busy wife and mother of four. After my Dad died and she had finished raising us (as if a parent is ever really finished) she had many comings and goings of children and grandchildren and seemed always to have much to do to run her household. Her “golden years” often appeared lonely and bleak, and I remember her working and toiling to all hours. But she had learned from my Dad the art of taking a “one-minute vacation.” She would sit and pray and look out at life, not as a woman alone, but as a beloved child of God in a moment of infinite communion with her Creator. Sometimes I would watch her and see that the look of peace and love come across her face, and when she would see me in those moments, she would invite me in.
Under quarantine, we get no “vacation” from the news, the internet, the phone calls and efforts to stay connected, the pressure to feel good/do good, be productive. Many of us have lost actual planned vacations and trips that make life fun and pleasurable. Life has changed, and while we must continue to meet the challenges ahead with structure and fortitude, we have also been given an opportunity to encounter the moment in a new Way. Leo Tolstoy observed that faith “gives to the finite existence of man an infinite meaning, a meaning not destroyed by sufferings, deprivations, or death.” we are children of the Cross—that moment when life entered into death, and we are children of the Resurrection—that miracle when eternity entered into the moment. Patterns of structure and schedule need not leave us frantic, uncomforted and desperate, as we turn to God who reminds us, “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Stuck in quarantine, we certainly been given many minutes to practice this level of peace and trust in the Lord! I encourage you to see restriction as opportunity. An opportunity to take a one-minute vacation, throughout your day. The truth of God’s mercy changes the moment of end to the moment of eternity, and amidst the great passing travail we can find peace in eternity, a one-minute vacation. Maybe it won’t be easy to turn off the TV or ignore the internet or even your own thoughts for a while. Maybe your efforts won’t make you feel better immediately but give it time. Give it patient trust, for one minute in our loving and merciful Lord’s care equals eternity.
“Then stirs the feeling infinite, so felt in solitude, where we are least alone.” Lord Byron
Father Bill Burk†