Churn out enormity

And we need reminding of what time can do, must only do; churn out enormity at random and beat it, with God’s blessing, into our heads: that we are created, created, sojourners in a land we did not make, a land with no meaning of itself and no meaning we can make for it alone. — Annie Dillard

I had an exchange with a friend, who’s also a dad, about the impossibility of fully appreciating your children’s childhood. Here is a part of what I wrote to him:

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You know, you are so right to say it that way. I try so hard to appreciate things in the moment, but always feel later a failure. When my mom was dying, as I sat beside her bed I tried desperately to appreciate her still being with me…but in some ways it was too hard to think that way, as the grief of impending loss, of the water’s imminent escape from my hand, clouded my ability to receive the moment. Such a paradox!

But an insight I had with my mom, and have had with the kids, was in the whole liturgical sense of ‘anamnesis’ [Greek word for ‘remember’]. Remembering “in God” what has sunk into the past has become the primary way I access the unsearchable depths of the beauty present in each moment. So much of my prayer has become remembering the past in God’s presence … is this not what praying with Scripture is? Only in prayer can I see clearly that, to the eternal God, all is present. And to the incarnate God, Jesus Christ, our memory and God’s memory have become one remembering. Such is the Eucharist.

Prayer also allows me to realize my nostalgia, the painful desire to not allow what I love to vanish into the past, is an imago, an echo of God’s eternal — agonized — love for all things:

For you love all things that exist,
and detest none of the things that you have made,
for you would not have made anything if you had hated it.
How would anything have endured if you had not willed it?
Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved?
You spare all things, for they are yours, O Lord, you who love the living. – Wisdom 11:24-26

This morning I had breakfast at City Diner with Maria (our little monthly tradition), and we remembered the past — the special moments, random happenings, and funny things we treasure together…and it was incredible, always is, left me filled with a blend of joy, sadness and hope as I drove away. And when I go to my Mom’s grave, I sit there and remember. So much, everything really. And somehow I go deeper into what was, with a mix of sadness, gratitude and hope.

At once, I must treasure and let go. ☨

To me, as you know, this is what I believe the new creation is about in its deepest structure: forever unpacking in the eternity of God what was the infinite depth of time, of the now, of the sacrament of the present moment that none of us has, or can receive wholly in this life.

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Astonishing thought, in every moment of our lives in this world we are called to “churn out enormity” — to impregnate each minute of each hour of every day with love, readying its labored procession for eternal remembrance in everlasting Resurrection.

3 comments on “Churn out enormity

  1. Jennifer says:

    this Annie Dillard quote, the Wisdom passage and your reflection are all exquisite.

    praise God.
    thank you for sharing this beautiful mystery.

    (and that is one of the most moving movie montages of all time, imho)

  2. tmm says:

    DTJN, so rich a post, you’re offering much to be swallowed and digested. Reading this: “each minute of each hour of every day”, was the portion chosen for me by the Holy Spirit. Time was recently a theme on my heart. It was delightful thinking about how great it will be to be out of time when we are in eternity. No more schedules, just living the present moment in God’s presence. So thankfulness was my response to God a couple of days ago, as a very tight schedule was in the Lord’s hands and He delivered. Everything was accomplished and not even a minute late for anything, even down to being in the evening traffic on the bridge. Amazing what God can do, no matter how many obstacles pop up. The meditation on time evoked thanksgiving a few days ago, and today it is taking me in a different direction. It is apparent that each minute is not even mine, but as soon as it is realized, it is gone and becomes the past. That said, the only way for me to live love is “to be”. Jesus living in me and me abiding in Him, brings about that reality as He is out of time, but also in time, always was and always will be. The importance of this scripture is being showcased in a great way:
    📖Galatians 2:20 “yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me”.

    This is one more reason to truly surrender to Jesus daily as best as possible, because to the degree this is done, is the only way to not be found wanting a little or a lot at the end of the day, when it will be all about love. Thank you for the post that is shoring up my surrender efforts as God would have it. Again, something for everyone
    🙈Any time things seem 2B a mess
    Trust, cause God can most certainly always bless
    / \ tmm/PTL

  3. Katy Dornbos says:

    “So much of my prayer has become remembering the past in God’s presence … is this not what praying with Scripture is? Only in prayer can I see clearly that, to the eternal God, all is present. And to the incarnate God, Jesus Christ, our memory and God’s memory have become one remembering.”

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing and giving a “nod from the heart” to this truth. It’s important. Stinissen says “the truth is, our memories are more His than ours.” Wow!

    Since a retreat at our church this summer given by Dr. Bob Schuchts and his brother Bart, I’ve been entertaining the question of Our Heavenly Father “Will you participate in my ache?”. And I think this “remembering *and* being in the present” and “wanting to take in all of my child’s childhood” has “the Father’s ache” written all over it.

    The only thing more impossible than feeling that ache (with a child, with a parent, with memories, etc) is *not* feeling it. Thank God. How sad would our hearts be if we could dull that ache, quench that wick? I think it’s an ache of communion, an ache that cries out “this enormity that you have come to know, it is the fire of my heart. And it will not go away. No, in fact it will continue to grow…into Heaven. What you think is too good to be true is most definitely true. And this ache bears witness to that…to ME.”
    To combine the gospels, Catherine of Siena, and Benedict XVI, Heaven is a person: Jesus Christ. Heaven is among you; yes, all the way to Heaven is Heaven.

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