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Every, every minute

November 29, 2011

Emily: “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it– every, every minute?”

Stage Manager: “No” (pause) “The saints and poets, maybe they do some.”

-Thornton Wilder, Our Town

I don’t recall why I was thinking of this quote from this play recently, but I ran across it today and I find myself thinking about it again.

There is something about that question that is both sweet and innocent, and terrible and haunting.  Life is a string of endless moments, from our first breath until our last, and yet we are present for so little of it.  We forget to look.  We forget to really see.

I remember my grandmother crammed into her tiny kitchen with my mother and my aunts, cooking up a feast for the men who were working hard on the farm.  I remember…but I was a child who was more concerned with whether or not I was going to be able to skate by without having to eat green beans, and so I never actually saw them as they bustled and chattered and stirred.  Moments we miss are gone forever.  We only have the present.

Sometimes I think that part of what Jesus meant when He said that He came so that we’d have abundant life is that He was going to give us a new perspective so that we’d be free to really be present in our own lives, and in doing represent a kingdom that is so beautiful, so amazing, so now, that we’d begin to find that eternity lives in every second of it…and we wouldn’t want to miss a thing.  It’s rather difficult to live like that if one is waiting for the kingdom of heaven to be something that we experience after we die.  Life is for now, for breathing in air, and abundant life is for now, for breathing in Spirit…and breathing out Spirit.

I have come to firmly believe that Kingdom life can only be lived in the present.  When we don’t look and we don’t see, we can’t really be about the business of a God who is intimately concerned with our nows.  We’re too busy being about our own business.  Funny how little of our own business is actually in the present.  Funny how little of it ever leaves our own little bubble.

The present often appears quite mundane.  It rarely seems remarkable at the time unless you see it with eyes that know how to drink in every bit of the moment and see its hidden gold– the beautiful little moments, the unintentional revelations that people give when they don’t realize that they are being not only watched, but actually seen.  Even the empty room that echoes with the evidence of life– the socks on the floor, the hairbrush left behind, the dog waiting patiently for his favorite to come home…it’s all part of a beautiful now, of recognizing that is the embraceable moment.

I want to live in the now and love in the now.  I want to see– really see– life as it happens around me, with me in it.  With all of its beauty and pain and daily-ness, I want to realize life…every, every minute.

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