The voice on the podcast says that back then, when they had little kids, they had no life. It was a throw away line for the speaker, she meant that back then they didn’t go out that much and their kids schedules were dictated by the parents and so everything was under more control and certain elements of life—daily, weekly, and monthly rhythms—were easier to maintain back then. I know what she’s referring to, it’s. My daily life at the moment. Still, the comment rubbed me the wrong way. Mine is a life, it is a charmed life, and a life worth living. This little era in our family history is—I know—only too short, but I would never call it a time of “no life” not when the boys are up before 6am and outside biking and running with me at 7, not when the board games are always on the table and I never what kids I might find in my kitchen any given day. “no life? No, this is my life and I am grateful for it even as I look back on halcyon days of the past and forward to ricking chairs, vineyards, long hikes in beautiful countrysides and whatever else Mary and I come up with to do when we have less people reliant upon us to get through the day.
Famously Ecclesiastes says,
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Which strongly suggests that there are, in fact, seasons in life and that we ought to not think we are putting our lives on hold by being in any given season, but rather recognizing that whatever the season, this is our life.
The apostle Paul wrote, I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
Whether in a season of fulfilment, joy, and peace, or a season of shipwreck, Paul says, we can face our lives with purpose and intention. We can take our thoughts captive and demand they slow down and appreciate the moment, whether we are eating at a famous steak-house or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that we can’t eat before another kid needs another one:)
I have met many people lately—and I am not immune to this myself—who are waiting for something to happen, some change or project fulfilled and as they wait they miss the season they are in. The subtle beauty and gentleness of caring for an ailing spouse—yes it is hard and sometimes gross and the recipient of our gestures may be ungrateful—love in action is worth leaning into and deeply fulfilling. I find such service easier when I try to be in the moment, to allow the present my full attention rather than experience it as a speed bump on the way to wherever it is I think I am going. Besides, in my experience, we never really get wherever that is anyways, there is always some other destination on the horizon.
For some the challenge in embracing today might be the mind’s propensity to look back with rose coloured glasses. In my case I think of when I first met my wife and I think our lives were so easy then (strange how they didn’t feel that way then) or the time spent in a small Montreal apartment studying Beat Generation writings drinking wine and enjoying life as newlyweds in an exciting city (forgotten is the stress of tests and papers, difficult professors, traffic jams…) man, are we ever good at looking back and seeing things in particular ways.
Before this little post gets too rambling I guess I want to say that we can all use a reminder to live our lives today, to look carefully at them, if there is something we want to change right now then we should commit to doing so, every day we get to choose if we are the person eating an a cupcake or kale, watching tv or doing yoga, telling our spouse how much we appreciate them or pointing out their failings. If you need help to make the bigger changes ask for it, I rarely meet anyone who refuses to help another person genuinely trying to improve their lot in life.
God places us in many circumstances, we might as well make the most of them. Now, I’m off for a run, what are you off to?