God is thanksgiving

Luke 7:36-50

A bit of a ramble of thoughts today…

God has a special purpose, a special love, a special providence for all those he has created. God cares for each of us individually, watches over us, provides for us. The circumstances of each day of our lives, of every moment of every day, are provided for us by him. [This] means that every moment of our life has a purpose, that every action of ours, no matter how dull or routine or trivial it may seem in itself, has a dignity and worth beyond human understanding. No man’s life is insignificant in God’s sight. – Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J.

Everyone has a vocation.

Every single person was created by God with an intention that precedes creation itself. Regardless of the circumstances of one’s conception or of one’s parents’ reception/rejection of your coming-to-be, God unconditionally willed that each person exist. As Pope Benedict XVI said it, “Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed. Each of us is loved. Each of us is necessary.” And that intention, will, thought, love and necessity continues in every subsequent moment of life into eternity. Our first vocation is to be “called into existence,” by God’s eternal decree, as human be-ings. Your first vocation is to receive existence, to receive God’s desire that you exist, and thereby receive His inscrutable love.

Revel and rejoice in that gift! If you begin and remain there, every other sense of vocation in life will be an overflow and never seem a burden.

Every other meaning of vocation flows from this first. It grounds our dignity not in what we can or cannot do, or in what we do or do not do, but in who we are. Pre-born and newborn babies, in their fragility and helplessness, are radical signs to us of this inviolable dignity that under-girds and supersedes our evolving ability to actualize various gifts, to care for ourselves and others, or to contribute to the good of humanity. Babies are screaming sacraments of the gratuitousness of existence, are the voice of God crying out, “Worthy, because loved!”

To love and care for children from the moment they come into existence in the womb — or to love any who are fragile or helpless — is to confess and express radical gratitude for our own unsolicited creation. Any good I do for others, any love or mercy or kindness I show them, is simply a just act of thanksgiving to God; an imitation of His lavish generosity in loving me into existence at every moment. My every vocational response, then, flows from this first act of gratitude. I write, love, teach, remain faithful, encourage, suffer and do all things to make of my life thanksgiving.

The Holy Eucharist, the thanksgiving of God and man — ! — makes present to us the God who gave His life away to us first by giving us life, and then by redeeming the life we wantonly threw away. In the Eucharist, God makes present to us our terrifying ingratitude as we savagely “put to death the Author of Life” (Acts 3:15). And in the Eucharist, when the words of a broken body and bloodshed are spoken over bread and wine, I tremble knowing they are spoken about me, with intention, by the “Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). Who loved me, gave Himself for me. The Son is grateful to the Father in the Mass for handing Him over into our hands so that He might bring us back to life again with Him to share His supernal joy. The Father is grateful to the Son for saying Yes to this mission of love, and the Spirit is the exchange of thanksgiving between Father and Son (Luke 10:21).

St. Thomas Aquinas, when he was 5 years old, asked his teacher, “What is God?” Today I conclude, God is thanksgiving.

Is Eucharist, which just happens to be the supreme nexus of God and creation in the universe.

And thanksgiving’s source and summit, its taproot and sweetest fruit, is love.

“The sacrament of charity, the Holy Eucharist is the gift that Jesus Christ makes of himself, thus revealing to us God’s infinite love for every man and woman.” — Pope Benedict XVI

“Theos agapē estin.” — 1 John 4:8

So my real vocation is to gratefully place all that I am and have in the service of the God-Neighbor, Jesus Christ, which is another way of saying that my vocation is to love God by loving our neighbor and to love neighbor by loving God. Everything else is a secondary detail. Those who fret over their vocations to this or that way of life, this or that career, this or that location, this or that person, etc. need to transfer their angst-energy from those secondary specifics to the primary wholehearted commitment to “love in place” in the most radical way possible. If you strive to be faithful to loving in place, with the people and circumstances and health and opportunities and challenges you have right now and right here, the path ahead as to where God is leading you to expend yourself most fittingly will peacefully come. And whatever that is will, or at least should not, look any different from what you are already doing right now.

The only path to fidelity to God in the future is fidelity to God in the present.

So, simply share with God right now, in gratitude, your desire to do His will in all things. Then relax, do what you do well, trusting Him in the present to unfold your future with you. Remember what Bl. John Henry Newman said,

I have my mission – I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. Whatever, wherever I am I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what he is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me – still He knows what He is about. Therefore I will trust Him.

So bloody relax, please, and love as best you can, repenting the rest into His fathomless mercy. Then, press on.

Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Phil. 4:6-7

You are so loved, in every moment God explodes in joy that you are. Drink that in, give thanks and be at peace.

There’s a light
A certain kind of light
That never shone on me
I want my life to be lived with you
Lived with you
There’s a way everybody say
To do each and every little thing
But what does it bring
If I ain’t got you, ain’t got? Hey babe

You don’t know what it’s like, baby
You don’t know what it’s like
To love somebody
To love somebody
The way I love you

The One who answers the cry

[Jesus said,] because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Paraclete will not come to you (John 16:6-7).

The sense of divine absence, of God being silent, inactive, distant, opaque as we face the trials that life brings our way … Any person of faith who has journeyed long enough has felt this. How do you face it? How do you pray in it? I think of St. Augustine’s musing on this:

Who would choose troubles and hardships? You command us to endure them, but not to love them. No-one loves what he has to endure, even if he loves the endurance, for although he may rejoice in his power to endure, he would prefer to have nothing that demands endurance. In adverse circumstances I long for prosperity, and in times of prosperity I dread adversity. What middle ground is there, between these two, where human life might be free from trial? Woe betide worldly prosperity, and woe again, from fear of disaster and evanescent joy! But woe, woe, and woe again upon worldly adversity, from envy of better fortune, the hardship of adversity itself, and the fear that endurance may falter. Is not human life on earth a time of testing without respite?

On your exceedingly great mercy, and on that alone, rests all my hope.

During the two years I spent reading endless commentaries on St John of the Cross’ writings for my dissertation, I wrote this line: “We very naturally long for the awareness of God’s presence, for a sense of inner fullness, and so desire to be filled with divine light always. Yet, faith is no such thing. St. John is quite unambiguous that, in this life, it is God’s felt absence, faith’s entry into the divine darkness that is the greater form of encounter with His presence. This insight from John floored me today: Absence is God’s presence under the form of yearning. For John, it is hunger and thirst, panting and yearning alone that stretch our capacity to receive the One who ever-exceeds our capacity and calls us into the deeper.”

Again, I think of Augustine:

You called, shouted, broke through my deafness;
you flared, blazed, banished my blindness;
you lavished your fragrance, I gasped; and now I pant for you;
I tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst;
you touched me, and I burned for your peace.

Then I thought: During the Mass, the moment when the priest begs the Father to send the Holy Spirit upon the gifts of bread and wine to transform them into the Risen Christ is called the epiclesis, which in Greek means “to cry out to.” Not to ask calmly, dispassionately, as if for some nice addition to life. No! To recognize what we seek is required for life itself, for any and all good things.

Epiclesis! Such a priestly prayer, which is for all of us to pray always in the “liturgy of life,” to me resembles hungry baby birds in the nest begging, stretching, pleading, clamoring desperately when the parent comes with food. Not because they don’t believe the parent wishes to feed them, but because they believe she does. But there’s more here. It was Jean Vanier who, years ago, made for me the astonishing link between this Greek word for the human cry to God (epiclesisand the Greek word Jesus uses to name the coming-Spirit, the Paraclete. Both words contain the verb kalein, “to call/cry out.” As Vanier says,

The cry for communion in the poor and the broken makes us touch our own inner pain. We discover our own brokenness and the barriers inside of us, which have gradually been formed during our childhood to save us from inner pain. These barriers prevent us from being present to others, in communion with others; they incite us to compete and to dominate others. It is when we have realized this that we cry out to God. And then we meet the “Paraclete” (Holy Spirit) whom Jesus and the Father have promised to send us. The word “paracleta” means “the one who answers the cry.”

The Paraclete, then, is the presence of God under the form of epiclesis, crying out, yearning. My God!

In the Mass, the Paraclete comes and transubstantiates a bit of food and drink into the New Creation, which is itself the answer to every human cry for justice, mercy, peace, love, life… It is this form of Presence, effected by the meeting of cry-and-Answer, that we call Real in the Holy Eucharist, the Medicine of Immortality given to us by our crucified and risen God-with-us. He, the One who cried out from the Cross, is the One who, in the words of St. Maximus, “longs to be longed for, loves to be loved and desires to be desired.”

And those of us who dare to consume this Food and Drink, receiving the Answer, consent to become “one who answers the cry.”

I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. — Matt. 25:35-36

Sacraments of beauty’s protest

Earlier this week I made time to shabbat, to “cease” my non-stop life and attend to the immediate, the present, the here and now, in order to look at all God has made and say with Him, “Very good.”

After watching the sunrise with a stiff east wind caressing my face, and driving my daughters to play practice, I went to a local bookstore to read one of my favorite books.

For 2 hours.

20,000 different species of butterfly. Flowers in flight refracting divine de-light.

For me they have always been sacraments of beauty’s protest, gracefully yielding against the unyielding, rebellious, predatory designs of as-yet unredeemed nature. Icons of the glory to be revealed, per Romans 8:18-30. They transform from caterpillars who steal and destroy to live, into butterflies who feed only on what is freely offered to them and, by pollinating, give back the gift of new life.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed [metamorphoumetha] into his likeness from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18)

I remember as a child watching a blue jay eat a still-fluttering sulphur butterfly on the sidewalk, swallowing the body and leaving on the ground two perfect yellow wings. Lifeless beauty laid on a concrete sepulcher. I recall being profoundly sad, but only sitting still, as if waiting for something unexpected to happen. Beneath the crush of violence, beauty still gently smiled. How could God not act? I sat and looked, wondering if there would be a heaven for butterflies. There to live again, soaring their immortal protest.

To God they soar, I’m certain of it, as “He will not refuse one who is so blithe to go to him.”

When I am discouraged, weary, disheartened, disillusioned, I pull out my book and remember: Butterflies are. Like the Seraphim, existing there only to sing with colors the splendor of divine Beauty.

After I left the bookstore, I went to visit the levee. They were everywhere, dancing in the sky under the brilliant sun, skipping from flower to flower. And I remembered my mom reading to me Trina Paulus’ Hope for the Flowers when I was small. If you recall, the caterpillar exclaimed with hope,

“We can fly!
We can become butterflies!
There’s nothing at the top
and it doesn’t matter!”
As he heard his own
message he realized how
he had misread the instinct
to get high.
To get to the “top” he
must fly, not climb.

I flew in praise! Praise, that most ‘useless’ of prayers, without a ‘why’ other than to declare Beauty’s endangered appearing. Thank you, O God, for deeming the risk worthwhile, for us and for our salvation.

Glory to Thee, bringing from the depth of the earth an endless variety of colors, tastes and scents
Glory to Thee for the warmth and tenderness of the world of nature
Glory to Thee for the numberless creatures around us
Glory to Thee for the depths of Thy wisdom, the whole world a living sign of it
Glory to Thee; on my knees, I kiss the traces of Thine unseen hand
Glory to Thee, enlightening us with the clearness of eternal life
Glory to Thee for the hope of the unutterable, imperishable beauty of immortality
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age   — Glory to God for All Things

He will destroy death forever

On this mountain he will destroy
the veil that veils all peoples,
the web that is woven over all nations;
he will destroy death forever.
The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from every face;
the reproach of his people he will remove
from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken. — Isaiah 25:7-9

Back in the early 2000’s, a dear friend of ours was dying of cancer. He was terrified of death, mostly because he had “lived life hard,” as he put it, “and did serious wrong to a lot of people” before he came back to his Catholic faith late in life. He was afraid that all those people would be waiting for him on the other side of the grave, there to accuse him before God. No matter how much assurance he received in sacramental absolution, he held tight to his past.

My wife visited him in hospice with three of our children, all of whom were under 6 or under. The last time she went to see him, he was weepy and visibly panicked by the nearness of death. One of my children jumped up on his bed and said to him, “Don’t worry Mr. Pat, it’s gonna be okay!” Which only made him cry more.

A few hours after Patti and the children left, the woman who had been at his side throughout his chemotherapy and dying called me at work. She said, “Pat just passed to the Lord. I wanted your family to know what happened. After your wife and children visited and then left, Pat was, as usual, inconsolable. I went over to him and said, ‘Did you hear what that boy said to you?’ He nodded. Then I told him, ‘Don’t you know Jesus sent a child to you to prepare you to meet Him? Those words he said were straight from the Heart of God, ‘Don’t worry Patrick, it’s gonna be okay.’ He quieted down, closed his eyes and relaxed his breathing. I left the room, and he flat-lined. I just wanted you all to know that.”

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them. — Isaiah 11:6

Marriage, Sacrament of Divine Friendship

Us

Today is our wedding anniversary. At 11:00 a.m., October 14, 1995 our Nuptial Mass began with us singing “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” alone before God, face to face. I remember her radiantly joyful face! Oh, and I think there were other people in the church that day as well. And as we finished praying together this morning in thanksgiving for our marriage and children, we looked out our hotel window and saw this on the beach below:

Since I have not had time to write this week, I thought I would edit and post something I wrote last year but never posted. I hope it benefits someone.

[St. Thomas Aquinas says that] after the love that unites us to God, conjugal love is the “greatest form of friendship.” This unique friendship between a man and a woman acquires an all-encompassing character only within the conjugal union. — Pope Francis

Augustine finds a way to make the “self-donation” of the spouses a function not primarily of natural inclination, but of the long, hard, purifying pedagogy in the loving humility of Christ which begets the only true joys. — John Cavadini

There was a man I know who was having trouble in his marriage, and he asked me recently if I would have lunch with him to speak about his situation. He is a man of deep faith with whom I have enjoyed many wonderful faith-filled conversations. He later gave me permission to share his insights anonymously.

He and his wife, who have several children, have grown distant over thirteen years of marriage. At the time I spoke with him, he said they lived in a state of “total war.” They fought all the time, mostly about parenting issues. “But,” he said, “it’s not the children that really are the issue. It’s that we just don’t like each other any more. We stopped having sex two years ago and can’t even talk about it.” As we talked about why that was the case, he said, “Look, we used to be best friends. There was no one I wanted to be with more than her, and I know she felt the same. Early on, everything came so naturally to us. But then life happened, kids came, my constant job changes, her parents’ resentment of my taking their daughter and grandkids away. It’s the hardest thing imaginable to live with someone you feel you don’t even know anymore. I feel like she hates me.”

Then he cried.

Life had gradually distracted them from each other and, as he said it, “practical things, busyness, children, work all robbed us of the time we used to take to keep each other the main focus.” He was silent for a moment, and then said, “Let me be more honest, Tom, and say we let them rob our time away. At least I did. You could say I thought we had plenty of gas in the tank to make the trip without refueling. The biggest mistake I made was to coast, take ‘us’ for granted. It’s so easy to do, and it seems lots of folks seem to just make it work. But we are just to intense for that to work. I just thought everything would always be the same between us and then everything else just got in the way.”

As we talked further, we talked about how they didn’t really consider how their marital promises had transformed their friendship into something radically new, transitioning from a private into a public reality — a covenant — opening the intimacy and exclusivity of their love to all the others who were now part of their covenant love,  i.e. extended family, children, work, church, society. All of these would now depend on and benefit from the beauty and strength of their faith, love and friendship. Yes, the two become one flesh, but that covenant drag a whole lot of other ‘flesh’ in with them!

This demanded of both of them something greater, stronger, more selfless, more open than they had been accustomed to before their marriage. Before, it was really just the two of them. I said, “On your wedding day, it’s like God placed in your joined hands a seed that would germinate and grow into a larger and larger family tree. Think of all the people who have come into your life! People who have come between you and strained your joined hands. To keep your hands joined as that tree grows and not let its increasing weight break them apart, takes mighty work; mighty love; mighty prayer; mighty grace; mighty support. Your love for each other needs to become more fierce and focused and intentional. It’s not too late.”

We talked about marriage as a Sacrament of God’s love. I said to him something like this (very summarized and formalized here),

Marriage reflects that way that the eternal, exclusive, pure love between Father and Son opened itself up to include the whole human race in that love when God became man. Think of what this opening up, this ‘going public’ demanded of God! You can think of the way Jesus speaks of and prays to the Father as a model for how you deepen and manifest your love for your spouse to all who come between you. The Father’s love for the Son, and the Son’s love for the Father extended itself to the bloody mess of humanity for us; so we might share in the unfathomable beauty of that immortal friendship of Father and Son. That opening up took the form of the Cross, which perfected the love between Father and Son (Mark 14:36; John 10:17; Heb. 2:10, 5:8) even as it intensified the love of Father and Son for humanity who had been invited to come between Them (John 3:16, 17:1-26).

You need to ask the Holy Spirit to teach you both the meaning of marriage again. Let Him in, together. He’s the author and perfector of marriage, He’s the bond of love between Father and Son, between the Son and humanity. In a real sense, He is marriage. He dreamed and created marriage and He wants to share with you both all He has to offer. Wisdom, grace, love, healing. Your marriage is a Sacrament of His love, so you have to let Him do His thing.

We sat for a few minutes in silence after this, and then he said, “Let’s pray.” We prayed, discussed a marriage counselor I recommended and got up to leave. He said, “We can do this. I know we can.”

The next week, I went to Confession. The words this older priest shared with me I at once emailed to that man. The priest said,

Remember, son, there is no one else on earth God commands you to love with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Of course he wants you to love your children and your parents and others in your life, but your wife alone deserves everything. Only God Himself requires such an absolute commitment. It’s really remarkable and sobering. She gets first dibs, first consideration, the best attention. She needs to know you better than anyone else and you need to know her better than anyone else. If you want to love your children, or anyone else, or even God, it starts and ends with how you love her. You will love everyone else well if you love her first. Understand? That’s the litmus test for everything. Every day when you examine your conscience, I want you to ask yourself, ‘Would my wife say she feels that is true?’ If not, say, “Lord have mercy on me, a sinner” and get to it.

Marriage truly is the Sacrament of divine friendship in human vesture. Joyful, Joyful we adore Thee!

We have finally lost our hold on the meaning of ‘exists’

[This was a stream of consciousness journal entry written after my son and I spoke about prayer late into the night]

What the ‘proofs’ prove is, at one and the same time, the existence of God and that, as said of God, we have finally lost our hold on the meaning of ‘exists.’ … Reason is rooted in our animality and it opens up into the mystery which lies unutterably beyond it, for it can, out of fidelity to its own native impulse, ask the question which it knows it could not answer, the asking being within its powers, the answering being in principle beyond them — Denys Turner

This quote captures for me a deep taproot of wonder, the sacrament of which is the question. Theology is defined by St. Anselm of Canterbury as “faith seeking understanding,” an understanding of the content of divine revelation entrusted to Israel and fully manifested in the person of Jesus Christ.

Let me say a few words about “divine revelation.” The history of Israel, beginning with Abraham and Sarah, is the history of an astonished race of nomadic Semites who found themselves beset by an unexpected god, guilty of breaking and entering their world with an utterly new, completely unsought, unspeakably bizarre and thoroughly disorienting revelation. This was a god who violated all usual constraints of the ancient Near Eastern pantheon, including the territorial and celestial borders each god observed. This God of gods seemed to feel free to roam wherever he wished (which is why Jonah fled to the sea in 1:3, thinking himself safe from the land god!) and vanquished all divine competitors (as Ex. 12:12 indicates, the plagues each specifically targeted the most powerful Egyptian gods).

The Exodus effected by this Roaming Conqueror was one theologically disorienting experience for the Hebrews and Egyptians.

Think here of Moses in the Sinai desert happening on the absurd vision of a burning bush that speaks to him and commands him to return to Egypt and confront the god-king, Pharaoh. And then when Moses asks this terrifying and fascinating deity for a name, what does he find out?

Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:13-14).

Seriously? I am? Clearly, it is a name that is at once a firm evasion of being named, evading any human claim to manipulative control of a god. This god is uncontrollable, cannot be bribed or manipulated (Deut. 10:17), because he is holy, i.e. wholly other, totally unique, completely singular, sui generis. A capital G God.

Theology is the description of the work of an exploring mind that has had opened within it a radically new capax, a “capacity” for entering into this absurdly new and uncharted field of inquiry; into the God’s real-time, living self-disclosure. And faith is the name theology gives to this remarkable new capacity given to the mind for accessing immediate knowledge of the source-less Source of all existence. In fact, faith opens the mind to immediate contact with God, mind to Mind, moving the believer from mere conceptual knowledge about God to personal knowledge of God. This is what the monk Evagrius meant when he said, “The theologian is one who prays and one who prays is a theologian.” Prayer is the act of faith opening the mind to God, which is another way of saying acquiring the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). Jesus is God’s human mind, which is why all prayer leads us into Christ (John 14:6).

When I think of all this, I am with John:

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead (Rev. 1:17).

St. John of the Cross argues that the union of the mind with God through faith requires a passage through darkness and death precisely because it involves a finite mind opening up within itself an infinite capacity. In this sense, the “dark night of faith” requires a leap of surrender that gives God permission to lead us from our narrow field of vision into the “vast and silent desert” where He can cease to hide and be fully God-for-us. As Mother Teresa said it, “Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of himself: Ask and seek, and your heart will grow big enough to receive him and keep him as your own.”

Prayer ensures that the theologian’s knowledge is of God; of the outside-the-box, wild and transcendent God who is source-less, beginning-less, origin-less, un-created, un-bounded. God, in an absolute way, transcends our finite experience of existence. While we would say that there is a certain likeness between God and the world He created, which gives theology something to talk about, we also affirm a greater unlikeness gives theology something to be quiet about. This is prayer in its final flowering: to contemplate mystery, to permit God full freedom in us, embarking on love’s endless quest into the inexhaustible self-disclosure of God in Christ.

So, son, if you want to pray be ready for the ride.

And don’t ever forget, all of this raucous mystery finds its sweetest fruit only in the capacity to love like Jesus; especially to love one’s enemy.

Time in a Bottle

[Written last December, sat in my drafts, sent out today]

Oh, how precious time is! Blessed are those who know how to make good use of it. Oh, if only all could understand how precious time is, undoubtedly everyone would do his best to spend it in a praiseworthy manner! — Padre Pio

I woke up with a start at 3:30 a.m. with the Jim Croce song, Time in a Bottle, playing in my head. It was startling, first of all because I had not thought of the song in years, and second of all because it sounded like it was playing in my ears when I woke up.

The day before I had spent the whole day with my wife, Patti, and all four of our children (at once!), which is very rare these days. We went to a movie, ate out, and later at home told funny family stories and looked at old pictures until after midnight. As the day ended, I was filled with overflowing gratitude for this fleeting taste of what I once took for granted. Before Patti and I went to bed, I pulled up the nuptial blessing that was prayed over us by Bishop Smith on our wedding day and shared this last part with her:

May they be blessed with children,
and prove themselves virtuous parents,
who live to see their children’s children.
And grant that,
reaching at last together the fullness of years
for which they hope,
they may come to the life of the blessed
in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Through Christ our Lord.

I told Patti how sad time’s relentless passage was, and she countered with a Dr. Seuss quote — “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” I went to sleep struggling to gratefully offer to God, and not rue, the passing of life into memory.

So as I laid awake at 3:30 a.m. recalling the song’s lyrics, it all suddenly made sense why this particular song had come to mind in my sleep. When I was young, I always grieved the passing of happy times and fantasized about time travel so I could return and re-live good times again. I just knew I would appreciate them more next time around! I also used to daydream, when I was in my teens, about singing this song to my future wife. And now this song had come to embrace my children as well, who have come to re-define life’s meaning for me.

I wrote on a piece of paper next to my bed,

God became human to ensure that nothing in time consecrated by love is lost in eternity, and — even more! — allowed His own immutable eternity to be enriched by time, consecrated and taken up into Himself. And He who is love even takes up into Himself the loveless, drowns it in His mercy and raises it with glorious wounds. The God who IS, became. Became all things for us, to seek and save what was lost. John 1:14 touches all of time, touched yesterday.

I fell back asleep and dreamed about walking along a backwoods path in Iowa where the kids and I, back in 2008, would go on a ‘secret adventure’ early every Saturday morning. When I woke up again, I prayed my morning Suscipe and listened to the song…

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding, and my entire will,
all that I have and possess. Thou hast given all to me.
To Thee, O Lord, I return it.
All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will.
Give me Thy love and Thy grace, for this is sufficient for me.

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day till eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I’d save every day like a treasure and then
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do, once you find them
I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go through time with

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty, except for the memory of how
They were answered by you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do, once you find them
I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go through time with