“The joy of life is not in the grand gesture but in the consecration of the moment.””The joy of life is not in the grand gesture but in the consecration of the moment.”
— Kent Nerburn
We’ve made it to Thanksgiving week, in the most bizarre, unexpected, absurd year I have experienced in my life… so far. I won’t add importance to how weird, strange, or whatever, this year has been. I’m just grateful most of us have made it this far, mostly intact.
So what can we do to appreciate, or consecrate (make sacred), this moment?
First, we can acknowledge our experience, know what we don’t feel we have, and what we do have.
Marcus Aurelius was the most powerful man in the world from 161-180 CE, one of the ‘Five Good Emperors’ of the Roman Empire and served as the last emperor during Pax Romana, a relatively peaceful era of roman history. And his legions were at war continuously; he often battled with them. Floods, famine and the Antonine plague, which lasted 15 years, dominated his reign.
And yet, in his Meditations, he wrote:
“If you’ve seen the present, you’ve seen all things, from time immemorial into all of eternity. For everything that happens is related and the same.”
Life happens. In some ways, it’s quite predictable. The sun rises and sets. The moon waxes and wanes. It rises and sets, though sometimes that happens during daylight hours, which confuses some people. Seasons change. If rain is predicted in southern Arizona, it may rain, or it might not. People get uneasy and they try to control something, anything, and the stores run out of paper products. Politicians pose. Newscasters talk. Neighbors help each other. Friends check on one another. Strangers change other people’s tires when they have a flat on the side of the road. CSLT identifies potential 2021 charities.
Things happen in our lives that we don’t like, we don’t want to have to deal with them, and yet…
J.R.R.Tolkien created the perfect reminder for us in this exchange between Frodo and Gandalf:
Frodo: “I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”
Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times; but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.”
What if we all meant to be here? What if it’s an encouraging thought that we are the ones who have either been called, or we chose (depending on your frame of reference), to be here at this time to work out how to live in these most unusual times? It’s both an honor and a challenge, right?
How can we honor, celebrate, commemorate, even consecrate, these remaining days of 2020? In a previous year, these days would have been filled with parties and travel and gatherings of all sorts. We can bemoan what we don’t have, or don’t have right now, or we can look at what we do have to work with, and decide to make the best use we can of what we do have. We can find joy in consecrating this moment.
Master Teacher Jesus said it best, “Love one another.” We know how to do that, even if we are apart. We’ve known how since we were very small children. And that is an encouraging thought.
–Rev Janis Farmer