It seems like yesterday when I wrote about the speeding seasons.
Now it’s a new year and well past the feast of Epiphany. The three kings arrived (finally), the tree will come down soon (we’re late, too), and the weather is exactly what you’d expect for January: ice storms and snow.
Just after taking several photos under a clear morning sky, I looked out the window to see huge, fat flakes of snow being dumped all over the remaining ice. Our brief blessing of blue sky is already a memory.
Life really is all about change, isn’t it? It is so difficult to real-ize — that is, to ‘make real’ — the fact that each instant is unique. I mean that in its most literal sense; every time I pointed the camera at the ice-coated branches this morning, the sun had shifted, the wind had blown, a bit of ice had broken off. If I hadn’t moved the camera one smidgen while shooting, the pictures would have been different, every one.
And it isn’t just “out there” that changes; we do, too. What I’m thinking, what I notice, how I evaluate and understand what I’m seeing, every cell in my body — all are changing constantly.
At one point in his brief preaching career, Jesus suggested that his listeners consider the lilies of the field. His immediate point was that God cares for us all, lilies, horses, hippos, humans and all the rest. In other words, we needn’t stew about having the latest gadgets, the coolest car, the most elegant house, the best clothes, the young face and body we had when we were thirty. They will all soon enough disappear, one way or another.
When caught up in the business of having, we also become invested in things not changing too much. It’s an odd paradox, one that can make us a little crazy. I want the latest computer, but I’m comfortable using the one I already have. I want a “better” job (one that brings me more money, that is), but I don’t want to go through the discomfort of being the newbie and learning a new set of responsibilities. I want a lot of cool stuff, but I don’t want my bank account to diminish.
We also become committed to expectations, no matter how many times life proves us wrong to do so. “Change” and “predictability” are fairly uneasy bedfellows, but we keep trying to make them sleep together.
I’m really glad God cares for us all, especially since we don’t seem particularly good at doing it ourselves. But I think Jesus had another point to make that day on the hillside. If we can switch our focus from having to being, change itself becomes the gift, the beauty, and the delight of our lives. All the time.
Our expectations may disappear entirely, or at the least become passing thoughts that sit lightly in our heads. We can stop worrying about tomorrow so much. We can stop to smell the flowers of the field, because tomorrow they won’t be the same. Or they won’t be there at all. We don’t have to agonize so much over the “bad” things that happen to us, either. These, too, shall pass.
Learning to welcome every moment exactly as it is — the good, the bad, the ugly, the astonishing, the beautiful, the heartbreaking, the delightful, the mysterious — truly sets us free.
So with all my heart I wish a Happy NEW Year to all. And to all a good life.