I write this newsletter article in the beginning of June before our church ‘summer break’ on the brink of several momentous events. I am on my way (June 10-11) to my 40th reunion at Hood College; the class of 1976. It is unbelievable that the time has gone so quickly! In many ways that was a very different time; Scott keeps teasing me that we will reconstitute our ‘streaking’ through the campus (a trend we do well to put ‘behind’ us) and not so daring on an all woman’s campus, with only one male day student leading our ‘pack’- except this time we’ll all be walking instead of running around the quad! Now the college is co-ed with many new buildings and sports center with actual teams. Two of my children are Hood grads also. 1976 was our nation’s Bicentennial year- when great celebrations also took place at Valley Forge, near where we lived, where I celebrated with my mother- now deceased for 37 years. This June 11 my father will be gone for twelve years, and my brother for one this August. Scott posted a throw-back Thursday picture of me, my Dad and brother at my ordination, 36 years ago June 21 on the steps of Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church. The generations go on with the years, as part of this weekend celebration will be a ‘sprinkle’ for my third grandchild due the end of June, and our first grandson. All of these milestones we want to hold in place; to remember ‘the way we were’ and to keep them, though they disappear.
How can we hold these moments in life when everything around us is constantly changing? How can I keep you from growing up? How can I keep you in the same city, the same state? How can I keep you from dying? We will do anything to hold and keep these moments. And though we try, we can’t. Like impetuous Peter on the mountaintop trying to preserve Jesus’ moment of transfiguration, and stop the inevitable march to Jerusalem and death, we try to hold on by building ‘permanent’ structures. We build monuments, we write speeches and sermons and books. We go to class reunions and celebrate anniversaries and birthdays. We put stones in graveyards and keep our children’s report cards and pictures in boxes to try to hold time still. But none of it works. None of it, finally, can keep the lasting in the fleeting moment. The only way to keep the precious memory is for grace to give us the faith that we all are being kept eternally in the heart of God. The moment is eternal because God is eternal. Jesus knew there was no need to build booths to prove he was with those he loved. The moment had already been kept. Forever.
“How do we get that kind of faith? We don’t. It gets us” writes Robert Hudnut in his book Practical Grace. Only grace can bring it. In the depth of our despair over keeping the lasting in the fleeting, we find ourselves with the faith that the only way the moment can be kept is for God to keep it, because God keeps us. God is the only permanence in our impermanent world. As T.S. Eliot describes; God is the still point in the turning world. Our longing to keep the moment is our longing for God. And by God’s grace we are re-membered.
– Pastor Carol