I’m sitting in the outdoor food court called 7+Fig. It’s in the Ernst and Young Plaza at Figueroa and 7th in downtown L.A., and it's Farmer's Market day. A marvelous setting in the midst of a teeming city. It’s early afternoon and most folks here are finishing a late lunch, some anxiously glancing at the time on their iPhones and Blackberries . . . or for messages. They’re clearly aware of the few moments they have left before hustling back to offices that ring this plaza like the pigeons watching the scene from high above, anxious for a scrap or two. We all have a relationship to time, but most of us blow through it without much thought given to the kind of time we’re living.
I’m watching a young couple, dressed to the nines in power attire. I’m sure they’re married. They’re both wearing a wedding band. And they’re sitting alone, but clearly take each other for granted. Work associates would be engaged with each other. But this couple is bored . . . or tired. They have this little squeeze of time, but aren’t alert to it. Not present to it. Or to each other within it. They’re elsewhere. The past. The future. But not here, in the present. Failing the time they have now, they’re failing each other, and they're failing love.
We spend the large part of our lives with minds hooked by the past or lured by the future. But we can’t meet God in either of those places. Only here. Only now. There is no other time but the present.
This is why I celebrate a time-healing project by a small congregation in Vancouver, British Columbia. What started out as an effort by a handful of disciples to dwell in the present time with full awareness of its meaning, the Christian Seasons Calendar has become a global phenomenon. Says Eugene Peterson, “This calendar brings fresh awareness to the essential sacredness of what is so easily profaned by hurry or sloth.”
Most people in this plaza live their lives by calendars—paper or electronic. But few of those calendars tell them anything about the sacredness of the day or season they’re living. Right now it's the long season after Pentecost for Christians (or Kingdomtide) and daily we live alert to the mischief of the Spirit, Who might come down on us like a pigeon diving for food . . . or Who could just as surprisingly kindle within in this couple a new flame of love.
Time-keeping is revolutionary in big and small ways. Right now, I’m wishing this dear couple before me was more alert to the sacredness of what’s so easily profaned by the tediousness of the calendar they’re forced to live by. Not only would they live more alert to God, they’d love each other more fully as well.
I pray to see their eyes connect for just a flash, their hands touch . . . and fire fall right here and now at the corner of 7th and Fig. If not now, maybe tonight when they fall into bed.