“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.”
-Fr. Alfred D’Souza
If we wait for life to be smooth, simple, we will never live. The days keep unfolding, whether we’re strangled by anxiety or not. The rhythms of time continue; dawn to day to dusk.
The days dance on.
Sometimes that thought is terrifying – slowing time is impossible. It’s like wrestling a lion blindfolded with your hand tied behind your back. We cannot halt the days.
Life is grit and glory. All the moments we want to forget, all the sad days, all the pain are as much life as the celebrations, the feast days and the tenderness.
I’ll be 25 next week. A quarter of a century.
I remember when I was nine. Andrew, my youngest brother, was born. I was home doing laundry and helping my grandmother care for everything and everyone. I answered the phone when my dad called, the new baby was here. That was yesterday but that was 1996.
I remember when I was twelve. Sitting at camp under an oak tree, weighty with summer leaves. I remember weeping. Tears caught by the earth. I understood, for the first time, that God was not anger but love. That was yesterday but that was 1999.
I remember when I was fifteen. Boarding a plane for the first time. Leaving the US for Jamaica. I remember the shock of tropical air, the colors of the sea, the heartache of poverty, the touch of orphaned fingers clasped around mine. That was yesterday but that was 2002.
I remember when I was seventeen. Praying to a God who felt like stone. Aching for it all to be real but believing for then that it wasn’t. Praying late and praying early always meeting brass. That was yesterday but that was 2004.
I remember when I was twenty-one. Finding my purpose in India. Falling in love with beautiful, warm people. I remember hating the heat. Suffocating in the crowds. Enduring the stares that bored through me. Yet, there in the dirt I found life. I found my identity. I was made to love these people. That was yesterday but that was 2008.
I remember when I was twenty-four. Sitting on the couch with my husband. Laughing at our inside jokes. Trading responsibilities, dinner and dishes. Falling asleep with his prayers as the last thing I heard. That was 2012 but it’s already yesterday.
Time is racing by.
And it’s those moments, those little seemingly insignificant moments that pass 6,000 to a day, that combine to make up our lives.
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. ” – Annie Dillard
Life is gritty but we’re running towards glory.
That thought gives me such courage when fear threatens to still my feet. It lets me enjoy the beautiful brokeness of life on earth. Rich with simple pleasures.
Surrendering to anxiety deadens your senses. Life feels wooden. I don’t want to lose my sacred moments to fear or anxiety. Even if they’re painful I want to live them.
Accepting the trials lowers your expectations of life. In a good way. In a necessary way.
Embracing the pain makes it less of an enemy. Not pleasant, but less an enemy. It gives us the freedom to live in the midst of it – to run faster towards eternity. Every moment is a gift, whatever they may hold. I want to live them well, with more courage than fear.
Each moment breathes once and then is yesterday.
“I held a moment in my hand, brilliant as a star, fragile as a flower, a tiny sliver of one hour. I dripped it carelessly, Ah! I didn’t know, I held opportunity.” – Hazel Lee