Since agreeing to teach a four-week class at our church in March on “Liturgy, Lectionary, and the Christian Calendar,” I’ve been spending a lot of time–even more than usual, that is–thinking about the ways the calendar shapes our routines, the way we think about the world, and the way we experience the passing of time.
Some of us primarily mark time by school year, by fiscal or tax years, by growing seasons, and some of us, for a period of time at least, by the weeks of pregnancy ticking by on a calendar.
Regardless, we all keep track of time in some way, and as far as I can tell it seems to be getting the best of us.
I even know somebody who (no joke) begins a countdown to the following year’s Christmas on December 26. And she manages to keep the number in her head all through the year. If you run into her in March or July or October, she knows just how many more days until Christmas.
The truth is, it’s really hard to keep from looking to what’s next. It’s hard to be present in the present!
Think about those times just before periods of transition. I’ve been noting how we mark time differently at those moments. We say, “By this time next month, I’ll be finished with college.” And then, “The next time I take this sweater out of storage, I’ll be married.” And then, “By this time next year, I’ll have saved enough money to…” You get the drill.
I was doing this sort of thing as we packed up our Christmas decorations. I even said to J, “Do you realize that the next time we decorate our Christmas tree, we’ll have a seven-month-old?”
And I really couldn’t imagine what that would be like.
Of course, you never really can imagine what “it” will be like, whatever that “it” is for you, you know.
Packing up these ornaments, especially the glittery neon “E” from preschool, helped me to see that this is going to be an entire year of epiphanies in the ordinary for me. I hope I can take the time to watch out for them, to experience them, and appreciate them.
Because when we get caught looking into the future too much–looking forward to Lent, to Easter, to Pentecost, counting down the days until Christmas or, for that matter, the number of weeks until a baby is born–we can get desensitized to the epiphanies right now, right in the midst of ordinary, everyday life.