The Boardwalk

We went down to Ocean City yesterday to look at a house for a big family group next summer and took a short walk on the boardwalk when we finished our business, and I found myself wondering about the nature of time.

We think of time as moving relentlessly forward, and certainly it feels that way to me now, as the days march on toward that date five Sundays from now when I’ll say goodbye to my parish.

We think of time as linear, and yet we also see that it moves in cycles. Yesterday the boardwalk was nearly empty; in six months, it’ll be teeming with people like the seagulls who claimed the space yesterday along the water’s edge. I stood in this spot with my own children 25 and 30 years ago; in August, perhaps, I’ll walk this way holding my granddaughter’s hand.

Church time, of course, is cyclical and more. Jesus isn’t just born into the world again every year, but at every moment, and at every moment he is sitting down in the synagogue and all eyes are upon him as he declares that he’s come to bring good news to the poor. At every moment, we followers are hearing those words as a message of hope and challenge.

And our own memories are with us at every moment, maybe not consciously, but in the way the things that have happened to us continue to shape us, the people who have touched our lives continue to inhabit them. The past year has been a tough one for us as so many people who were important to us have died. Chris’s mother, of course, the last of our parents. So many friends who taught us by example how to live a life. And yet I do believe they’re with us yet, still teaching, as we go on to show others the lessons we’ve learned.