If you’ve spent much time with me in the past couple of weeks (which I realize includes as many people as I can count on one, and maybe a half, of a hand) you’ve probably heard me utter something like,
“I can’t wait to trade in my calendar, one day.”
I think I may have alluded to this in one of my recent posts. I’ve been mad at the calendar lately. It acts like a rude finger pointing out the longing, not letting me forget, or ignore it.
The year anniversary of Brooklyn’s death is coming up on me at what seems like hurtling speeds. Each day the calendar brings me closer to the truth that a year, an entire year, will have past since I held her in my arms; since I kissed her chubby cheek. She has been gone 3 times as long as the time she spent here on this earth. But, I think that is to be continued in a different post.
This irritation with the calendar has made me stop and think, will the calendar really be something I get to give up one day?
Even though that thought has presented itself in a question immediately following my angst-y statement expressing my irritation of the calendar’s weighty-ness in our lives, my heart wasn’t really asking that question. It was one of my “thought interruptions”, as I like to call them. Sometimes they come as fastballs or screwballs, but it’s usually the curveballs that make me stop and listen a little closer.
If something brings me pain here on earth, certainly it won’t be in heaven, right?
And then, I looked at the calendar again and realized tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.
It felt like somebody just told me my arch enemy has actually just made me dinner, cleaned my house, and brought me lots of presents.
Growing up in a more conservative Baptist church in NY we didn’t really observe the church calendar very closely. At least not in the way those – what I viewed at the time – legalistic Catholics, or those other mumbly liturgy observing churches did. Fast forward 15ish years and I found myself working at a theologically Presbyterian-influenced private school. In the early days, I just tolerated chapel and all of its non kid-friendly music and liturgical readings. Chapel seemed to bring out the worst in my kids, and in me, for that matter.
Five or six months into that first year at City School, one of the school buildings flooded and we were sent over to the Methodist church down the street to set up camp for the next few weeks until our rooms were repaired. Towards the close of our stay at the ever-so-kind and gracious Parker Lane United Methodist church our school participated in their Ash Wednesday Service. I had been to an Ash Wednesday service maybe once or twice before, but there was something about watching my kids engage this service that made me see the hymns, and the readings with different eyes. I felt this strong connection between the many Ash Wednesday Services held in the past, and the one I was participating in at that very moment in time. Many of the same things being said, prayed, sang, practiced that were observed hundreds of years ago. I remember looking over my shoulder to see an elderly couple singing and reciting the same words my 7 year olds were singing and reciting. I had never seen liturgy as the bridge that it can be more than in that moment. As my time continued at City School I began to love teaching my kids about chapel, what it has come to mean to me, and why we do things the way we do them. I cherished the chance to get to worship with my 7 year olds, both of us under the very same authority.
I still attend (and I use that word loosely) a church that would not describe itself as “liturgical” and they follow the church calendar in a more modern sense of interpretation, but ever since that Ash Wednesday service I’ve been making more room in my heart for the observance of these age-old traditions that the church has practiced centuries before us.
So here I am in this love-hate relationship. Yet another great duality to hold in this one heart I’ve been given.
Can it really be the calendar itself – that points out my pain AND the chance to engage an intimate time of reflection and communion with my King – that is my enemy?
Deep down I know it’s not really about the calendar itself. It’s time. More specifically, the passing of time. But reality is, time – whether passing quickly or dragging on – is not the enemy either. It is merely the thing in which I experience my greatest threat and anguish; death. The passing of time can hurt because of an existing separation, the impending inevitability of it, or even the death of moments that we just aren’t able to access in our finite bodies.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death. I Corinthians 15:26
One day, time will no longer bring me loss, whether it be remembering what I have already lost or anticipating what I will inevitably lose in the future, time will bring me gain. The passing of time will lose any – and all – threat it has held for me here. Talk about a pillow to rest a weary head on.
For Brooklyn’s Memorial service we asked friends and family to record what they experienced or learned through Brooklyn’s life. In one of our college friends’ video she referenced Brooklyn being in Heaven where she didn’t have to count days anymore. I think about that often as we were so diligent to count her days here on earth. It felt like the only important thing we could do. We wanted to cherish and number our days with her, each of them carrying weight and significance. But, she no longer has to count days and neither will we (Psalm 9-0:12). We will experience the fullness of the Eucharist – deep communion – forever without the sting of separation and death ever again.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,
Than when we first begun
P.S. I realize this post made it sound like I have it “all together”, and that logic and a little bit of theology fixes it all. Nothing could be farther from the truth. But in between the deep pangs, sometimes, it feels good to step back and look at the big picture.
P.P.S. And for your Lenten listening ears try this on for size.
The lead singer of this band pulled off a Trains, Planes, and Automobiles-esque sort of journey just to sing at Brooklyn’s service for us. She is awesome. You can purchase her band’s stuff here http://www.pagecxvi.com./ and other places like itunes and such too…