I had a good time away for numerous reasons but the main one was being with family. It was simply good to get a sense of how everyone is doing – seeing them in their surroundings or hearing about them – and sharing our lives again even for a few days. There is so much daily minutiae that you only think and talk about when you’re together. Of course a big part of this was seeing the grandchildren and getting to know them without the assistance of a screen.
Ariana is 2½ and watches and participates in what is going on keenly. It was very early one morning (don’t these children sleep?! ☺ ) and her Dad had already left for work and so to help, I would get up to Ariana – breakfast, games, and so on. One morning she looked at me intently – came close – touched my face like a sculptor feeling the clay, even kneaded my cheek as a baker might dough – and announced quite solemnly, “Pa” … I waited. “You’re very old!” I laughed and laughed – and quickly turned down the volume not wanting to wake the house. “Are you old, Ariana?” “No, I’m young.” “What about your Daddy, is he old?” ‘Yes, he is very old.” “Mummy?” “She is very old.” “Nanna?” “She dropped the lasagne.” (And that’s another story!)
We chatted and I remained ‘very old’ but suggested that her Mum and Dad might only be ‘old’. I don’t know whether that description has stuck. In the course of recounting my special moment many folk have related that they look back to when they were children and all the adults they knew – even if only in their 20s – then seemed ‘ancient’. I can recall thinking in primary school how long it was between Christmases and now I find myself thinking, “What? Already?!”. Time passes – the second hand or digital blinks are constant – but it is also very much a matter of perception too. Time rushes or slows. We can write a book about one hour of our life or a sentence to describe a hundred years.
I think the most time focused part of the Church Year is Advent. In the space of 4 Sundays we consider more than 2,000 years of history and peer into the future wondering when Jesus will reappear for all to see. We look forward then back, backward then forward in the story of Jesus to give ourselves a wide(r) perspective about now. You see ‘now’ can sometimes be so much, so intense – good or terrible – that we can think that this moment in our life is all that there is. It can be hard to have faith in the now because so many things can challenge it. But when we look back to things that we can no longer change – no matter how old they are – and when we look forward to beyond now because of that history then we gain perspective – another word is ‘hope’. Hope is faith looking forward in time. Why have hope? Well for Christians because we have a past involving water, words, bread and wine and there is another past of a manger, a cross and an empty tomb. Such truths help us live now – no matter how “very old” we are! GS
PS. It is also nice to be back.