Rev. Dave Crawford
“Life is too short to be little.” –
A recent ancestry discovery came as quite a surprise! I have history in Crossfield. A great-aunt, Grace Morag Reid, was born in Crossfield in 1916. Her parents James Marshall and Sarah Reid, immigrants from Scotland, farmed some land near
eitherIrricana or Crossfield in those early years. There’s more research ahead, and I’meager to see what all the historical documents reveal, but it’s kind of nice to stumble upon this old connection.
I’ve lauded before the whole ancestry.ca experience, a newish hobby of mine. There is something quite rewarding in researching one’s own family tree, a sort of groundedness, an evolving sense of family and personal identity, at least for me. There is also a slight risk, however. One may be so enamoured with the journey into past decades and centuries that attention to the present is affected, set aside, even ignored. One can’t live, meaningfully, in the past alone. A church elder in St. Albert said to me one time – “Yesterday is over and done with, we have no idea what will happen tomorrow, we can only do something about today – we have to live in the moment – we have only ‘now’.”
We have only now. That kind of brings home the urgency of living in the moment, doesn’t it? Perhaps we can learn from history, the history of our own lives, but we can’t change it – the mistakes, poor choices, regrets, if any, and while some memories of the past are good ones, our accomplishments, the happy times, we can’t live there, at least not healthfully, perpetually.
We do, however, have the present moment, we have the now, and the moment, or hour, or day at hand possesses tremendous potential, doesn’t it? Potential to enjoy life, to help others, to make a difference in someone’s life, to model and mentor, share and enrich, support and sacrifice, forgive and reconcile, lift up and love.
If that wise elder’s words don’t rouse us to consider the moment and its potentially precious qualities, then how about an old 80’s band The Pretenders and their old song “Time the Avenger”? This time coming at it from the opposite side, our mistaken belief that time will always march on predictably, in terms of our own lives, that we will have opportunities later on to live our dreams or serve our God, or both. But will we? I listened to it again just a few days ago while driving:
“Nobody is permanent,
Everything’s on loan here…
And you’re the best in your field, …
Thought that time was on your side,
No, it’s time the avenger.
Time, time hear the bells chime.
Over the harbor in the city,
Time, one more vodka and lime,
To help paralyze that little
Tick, tick tick tick…”
True, nobody’s permanent, and in a sense everything we have is on loan. To what extent do we truly own anything, given the fact of our mortality, given the march of time we all must come to terms with, given that we, none of us, can take anything with us beyond this life, just the essence of who we are, our spirits? That brother with whom you haven’t spoken since before the new Millennium? That parent you said you’d never forgive yet deep inside have always hoped you would? That trip to Vienna you keep postponing till the time is right? That promise you made to God to give more time to causes like Habitat for Humanity or Inn From the Cold?
All we have is now! Perhaps that’s why Jesus interrupted his orderly procession to address Zaccheus the outcast tax collector, why he responded immediately to the woman with a hemorage tugging at his cloak, why he turned water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana, why he told the parable of the Good Samaritan, and why he fulfilled his mission at such a young age, in earthly terms. The moment! The present! The now! History is valuable, important. Some wise commentator once said “If we don’t learn the lessons of history we’re bund to repeat them”, or words to that effect. Yet our calling is lived out here, today, now!
May God grant us the wisdom, and the diligence, to embrace life and its gift, not only as we remember the glory days of yesteryear, not only as we anticipate wonders to come, but as we walk daily with the Lord who always walks with us, who always calls us, sends us, and loves us.
We conclude with a little gem from Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) given during a sermon long ago:
“O my dear friends, …you who are letting miserable misunderstandings run on from year to year, meaning to clear them up one day; ….you who are letting your neighbor starve, wittingly intending to help when time allows,… or letting your friend’s heart ache for a word of appreciation or sympathy, which you mean to give him someday; … If you only could know and see and feel, all of a sudden, that the time is short, how it would break the spell! How you would go instantly and do the thing which you might never have another chance to do.”
Grace and Peace