There was a time…

There are so few things that really matter… and those few things that do matter, they are so very valuable.

We all carry these collections of preciousness.  Those moments when everything just slips into place.  Those times which justify the rest of our existence.

It doesn’t even make sense to do an accounting.  When you are in the middle of the sublime, you can’t quantify it’s value and see if all the hard times were worth it.   The quality of the thing is a bit like the time spent.

You could record and calculate how long the hard times were.  You could express this in days or weeks or months or years or miliseconds.

But those perfect times?  They happen according to God’s schedule, and in God’s time.  God’s time is flipped vertically, it doesn’t stretch out, it doesn’t register on our little clocks.  Eternity is the collection of all the seconds that will ever be.  But it is also potentially within every second, if we spend those seconds in the right ways.

I am painfully aware right now that there are some things which I have never spoken aloud.  There are some things which no one ever knows.  I am not thinking about great skeletons lurking in my closet.  I’m not even thinking of great times of rejoicing.  I am thinking of things that are so little, but not unimportant.  Things I could hardly put words to.

Sometimes I wish to share my life as if it were a story.  Right now, I wish to share a list.  It’s not exactly that the members of this list are unconnected.  It’s more than they are united through the fact that it is me that has experienced them.

I wish to write for pages and pages and pages, for hours and hours.  It would read like a song, it would read like a love letter.  I want to tell the world, “There was a time that this happened, and that happenened, and this happened.”  I want to tell you that it was good, that the world can be so good.

There is narcisism in there, I know that there is.  But at the same time, I want to know your list.  I want to know it desperately and intimately.  I will begin.  Perhaps you’ll be motivated to follow. 

 

There was a time when I lay on the floor of the bedroom of one of my dearest friends in the world.   The third member of our trio was there, too.  Our heads were touching I think.  And the Indigo Girls were playing on the radio.

There was a time when my youngest child wasn’t a day old.  And it was snowing on the roof tops.  My wife– his mother– was finally asleep.

There was a time when my oldest child was only five.  We sat on the front steps of our modest little apartment in Long Beach.  We sipped on hot apple ciders with caramel.   And we watched the sun go down.

There was a time that the boy closed the book when he finished reading it.  It was a Dr. Suess book.  He was seventeen.  It was the first book he ever read, cover to cover.  He was a tough kid, a gang kid.  But he closed that book and he smiled at me.

Would you share some of yours?  Please?  I’ll start.  “There was a time…”

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

One thought on “There was a time…”

  1. Funny you should post this just now, as I was having the very same train of thought, though when it came out in something I posted on my blog, it ended up at the opposite end from where you seem to have ended up. It all started, though, with thinking of those “good times” in our existence when everything seemed or seems “happy.” For me, those moments are so very rare. When you’re having one of those moments, you feel like you just woke up and remembered that this was the first day of the summer break, no more school, everything just free, and happy. C.S. Lewis talks alot about this kind of experience. But those moments, as good and as happy as they are, don’t last, and they can’t, because the world crushes them. This world that God made so good and so beautiful has been infected with a curse, and it just won’t let go of us until we let go of it. That is the mystery part, but it is possible to do it. And when we let go of it, then those moments like you described (and which I have had many of the same) are rendered permanent and take their place as true moments of kairos in God’s eternity. Christ promises to give us a mansion in His Father’s house, but we furnish it with these moments.

    If you are curious to see what I meant when I said my train of thought led me in an opposite direction from where yours has led you, it’s in my post, Only three years: http://cost-of-discipleship.blogspot.com/2009/04/only-three-years.html

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