Yesterday’s post was an entry to mark a low tide in my year. It is a day where I look at the tidal charts and note how the sea has rolled away once again to reveal what is usual hidden beneath the waves of my everyday life.
Today is another point on the tidal charts marking my life. It was fourteen years ago today that my sons boarded a plane and left a life of misery, a journey which brought them to my home.
Tides are simple and complex. The tides of the oceans, and to some extent lakes and rivers, swing to and fro, following the dictates of Earth, sun, and moon. The highest tides directly follow the moon, pointing to that great silvery disc in the sky. On the other side of our world the smaller high tide floats outward, responding to the off-center balance of the Earth/moon system, and both tides are strengthened or weakened by where the sun is currently in our lives.
Yesterday I was remembering a watershed event which changed me dramatically. Today there is the quieter observance of the journey my children began.
We fill our calendars with such observances. Some personal, some public.
This past year I ruefully celebrated my 50th birthday, and joyfully my 25th wedding anniversary. We had our birthdays, and we marked “Family Day” on June 1st to celebrate the day we first laid eyes on our kids. Brenda and I always go out for dinner on the last day of February, marking the day we met, Leap Year’s Day, 1980.
There are also the days of corporate celebration and remembrance and thankfulness. The fourth Thursday in November, the last night of the year, the first day of the year, the fourth day in July...
This isn’t so surprising, this need to mark our calendars and tick of the holidays, and holy days.
All creatures do so (well, mammals anyway), marking times for mating, times for gorging in preparation for winter, following the cycles of sun and moon and seasons. I see the behavioral changes wrought by the seasons daily. Remember, I work in a middle school and sometimes watching my charges is like watching a nature documentary. The creatures of this world carefully note the changing days and behave accordingly.
Perhaps mankind does so to a greater extent because time is the one dimension in which we have no control. We can move about in the other three dimensions, but the temporal one, the fourth dimension, is beyond our control. We are simply dragged along with the rest of the universe in the general direction of entropy.
Perhaps that is one reason we venerate The Creator. God is beyond time, outside of time. He always was, always will be. The Great I Am. He holds all things together and in so doing, demonstrates that He is external to it all.
Which brings us around to the reason for our next grand celebration on the calendar. It is the season we dedicate to remembering the point in time when He was both external and internal to time. When He split the universe apart, and He who was/is infinite became finite, He who was/is beyond material became flesh. We recognize how perfection came to be in a world imperfect.
Jeremiah is a calendar watcher. It is important to him to know what tomorrow will bring, what we will do, what we will eat. He is always talking about the next holiday, the next holy day.
The spinning Earth flings the sun across the sky and we move from day to day. On Sundays, the day named after the sun, my family celebrates the Son. On Mondays, the day named after the moon, we celebrate... well, we generally just go to work (whether or not that is a celebration is an individual thing). The days roll along, and the weeks follow.
I have my monthly moon howlin’s, when my brothers in Christ hold each other accountable, ask tough and ask stupid questions. In the absence of our women we scratch ourselves freely and listen to music and talk of things of great and of no import. It is another part of the rhythm of our lives. It is an iron sharpening iron sort of thing.
This marking of calendars, of honoring and celebrating and remembering, of somber reflection and joyful thanksgiving gives us a sense of control that is entirely illusional.
A clerk in the store where Brenda and I were shopping for gifts yesterday asked me how I was. I told him: “old and fat.” We all laughed. But there is the truth there that time is rolling along and my body shape is less like a Greek god and more like a fuzzy pear than I care to admit.
Still, this is a good time of the year. It’s a time to visit family (I have decided not to visit my crazy father this year --though I may go down to watch his latest suicidal bid at immortality in a couple of months). It’s a time to sing homage to when God crept into our world and changed history into His story. It is a time to hug and eat a little too much and snuggle under the covers as the winter chill creeps through the walls.
I mentioned earlier how the tides are strengthened or weakened by where the sun is currently in our lives. I would add that the tides of life are also strengthened or weakened by where the Son is currently in our lives.
Low tide has passed, the waters have returned, and I am joyfully playing in the surf of another day.