What a love/hate relationship we have with time! The memories that haunt us, that we cannot get back. The things we wish we could change, the words we wish we said or hadn’t said. The opportunities that we missed out of fear and numbness. The ignorance in us.
But also those moments we wish we could live in again, store them up in a bottle and put it on the fireplace mantle. If only we could pop the cork and enter back into the laughter, the gaze, the touch, the playfulness of a moment. Or if I could just have a day, 24 hours, when my kids were little with chocolate on their faces and mischief in their eyes. Or smell their little baby heads and feel the dimples in their knuckles.
And there’s the moments of trauma we wish we could erase. But they return and intrude, unwelcomed, into our present, saying this is who you are.
We store things in anticipation of the future. We fear scarcity as we look ahead. So we hoard. And we cage. People.
But this. This bitter, cold morning in February with wind. This sun-starving, color-dreaming, coffee drinking morning has a present. Last night, while letting out the dogs, Matt said, “You know, the one thing I like about the winter is the smell of the cold air.” I thought about how I longed for the sweet smell of a warm evening. But he was in the present. What a gift that is. To take it in. To receive the gift that is the smell of a winter night.
Koheleth, the preacher in Ecclesiastes, invites us to meditate on this gift:
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.Eccles. 3:11
That perfection of being in the present moment. Receiving its gift. That is the invitation of beauty, beckoning us. Telling us the secret. That it isn’t all vanity after all. Seeds of eternity have been planted in our hearts. That moment when we see it breaking through, what’s real. What we long for. Then we recognize the eternal value in the freedom of the moment. To receive. To give. To love. Participate. The joy!
The abundance in the moment.
That clarity helps us see the cages we’ve made. And gives us the keys.
Jesus, you entered into time. The Eternal One enters the womb of a woman, in patience, receiving her body as gift to nourish your own. How beautiful is that. Every moment of your life is beautiful, showing us the eternal weight each second holds.
“Let us therefore, who believe, run to meet the Bridegroom, who is beautiful wherever he is. Beautiful as God, as the Word who was with God, he is beautiful in the Virgin’s womb, where he did not lose his godhead but assumed our humanity. Beautiful he is as a baby, as the Word unable to speak, because while he was still without speech, still a baby in arms and nourished at his mother’s breast, the heavens spoke for him, a star guided the maji, and he was adored in the manger as food for the humble. He was beautiful in heaven, then and beautiful on earth: beautiful in the womb, and beautiful in his parents’ arms. He was beautiful in his miracles but just as beautiful under the scourges, beautiful as he invited us to life, but beautiful too in not shrinking from death, beautiful in laying down his life and beautiful in taking it up again, beautiful on the cross, beautiful in the tomb, and beautiful in heaven.”
Lord, your work in time is beautiful. Give us the eyes to see what’s real and the gratitude to follow you in it.
 Augustine, Expositions of the Psalms: 33-50, trans. Maria Boulding, WSA 3/16 (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2000), 283.