When I look back and forward over weeks past and weeks to come, life resembles one of those carnival rides where you go up and down, round and round, and get off feeling rather dizzy. In ministry there is a regular diet of fixed and unplanned activity: organising things, going to meetings, being the diplomat and the advocate all within the space of an hour, listening to stories of grief and worry, thinking about content for Sunday morning, hearing bits of good news and making time for a walk with the dog, or going to the football. Then there’s the unexpected. The phone call or email that cuts across everything else.
But I suspect everybody else’s life is a lot like that. Nothing special about mine.
Up and down, round and round. The expected and the unexpected. The past revisited. The future anticipated. And amongst it all, sits something called the present moment; that dimension of our lives that is always at risk of being lost, or run over by ‘traffic’ coming from every direction, or even crucified by the unmerciful tyrants that live within our thoughts. Things we have done or failed to do, and all the things that must get down, sit either side of here and now; like two criminals on either side of the crucified one.
The crucified one, who turns to the others being crucified, and says, “This day you will be in paradise with me”. Paradise which literally means ‘where God lives’.
At Christmas we celebrate the idea of Emmanuel – of God with us now. Think about that for a moment. Not with us yesterday or tomorrow but today. In this present moment. So, as summer slips away and autumn begins to reveal itself in all its colourful glory and we find ourselves drifting from one season into another, from the past and into the future, let’s remember to stop and cherish this day. Each day. It is and will be unique. It will not come again. Being alive to what this day might bring is what keeps the past and the future separated. It’s the space between the two that is really important.