August 31, 2019

Saturday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time

This the 52nd Saturday since I began this weekly blog series. You are looking at post #52.

Completing a year’s worth of blogs is a little bit of a milestone for me. Given that I could never sustain the habit of journaling for myself, I am glad to have maintained the discipline to put out these weekly reflections for you, my apparently masochistic public. As I have joked with several friends, it would have been much easier to maintain a Twitter feed called “Occasional Thoughts” than to keep up with a blog title that implied the promise of a weekly offering. Thank you to those who have encouraged me in this undertaking… I’m glad that it has been good for some of you—it has also been good for me in some ways.

There are many ways to think of the significance of a year: One solar revolution. 12 months. 52 weeks. 365.25 days. The musical Rent promises us 525,600 minutes.

For me, this past year has meant three residential addresses in two different countries. It has meant a transforming social landscape including redefined relationships, new acquaintances, and a few farewells. It has been a year of learning and new responsibilities, and a year in which I developed some basic comfort in a new language. I have seen sights both marvelous and tragic, and taken part in various celebrations. I’ve gained a nephew.

In short, this has been a year full of life that promises more life to come. Years of life, that is to say, years of love.

I once wrote as a brief aside that all I ever write about is love. I do so in ways that are obvious, and sometimes in ways more obscure. If love isn’t somehow present in what I write though, what value could it possibly have? The most poetic of words would be mere noise, like a clashing cymbal. A flame lacking both warmth and light would be easier to imagine than true wisdom devoid of love.

I have been reading a book recently, recommended by a dear friend of mine, that includes some reflections on how people view time in different cultures. Most readers of this blog probably think of the future as lying before us and the past being behind us because we compare walking forward along a path with our inexorable journey into the future—the moments already past are the places we’ve left our footsteps. In some African cultures however, it is apparently the other way around. The past is before us because we can observe and reflect on it as we do those things that lie before our eyes. The future is behind us because it remains hidden from our sight.

As I enter a new year of ministry, along with all of our teachers and students, I now see myself walking backwards into tomorrow. If only I have the wisdom to walk deliberately and at a prudent speed but without trying to freeze. If only I can take hold of helping hands and read the signs around me that proclaim both warning and hope in turn. If only I can keep from confusing what has been with what will become. If only I can do these things, with the help of our good God, I will be a good companion to others doing the same.

If God so wills.


The “ear candy” this week has already been alluded to. Please enjoy this performance of Seasons of Love… I am particularly pleased to have found a flash mob rendition, because it beautifully mirrors the eruption of love into our unsuspecting daily lives, as long as we remain open to it. In watching this video, I wondered how many people sang along to this well-known song, effectively joining the flash mob even after it took them by surprise: After all, genuine love invites others to join in love. As an additional way of reflecting on the meaning of a year, this week’s “brain food” provides an overview of all that can happen in the first year of human life. Enjoy!

Ear Candy: “Seasons of Love” by Donny Osmond for Rent, performed by students of Southeastern University in 2011

Brain Food: “First Year Development: Infant Development” by American Pregnancy Association

Come back next Saturday for a new post!