Enjoy it while we can

Pastoral Messages | May 11, 2017

A few weeks ago, my then-4-year-old daughter and I were coloring at our dining room table. I noticed that our vase full of cheerful, yellow daffodils were much too quickly becoming droopy and brown. I commented how sad it was that they were so pretty, but didn’t last nearly long enough. But my daughter said, “we’ll just have to enjoy them while we can. Right, Mama?”

She was right. I nodded and took a good look at that brilliant kid and realized how quickly she was growing up. A little bit like that daffodil, I feel this time we have doesn’t last nearly long enough (Though, truth told, there are times as a parent that seem to be interminable). So many conversations I have about my own and other people’s children consists of some version of: “They’re growing so fast!” Even without children as the measuring stick, we can’t help but notice time moving way too quickly and our lives speeding by.

The clocks keep ticking, the calendar pages turn and things change. I sometimes wish I could just slow it down. There are even those exquisite moments we hold our breath, as an attempt to keep time still. But it’s moving. We can’t change it. But we can change the way we pay attention to our lives.

My daughter has the right kind of advice, “we’ll just have to enjoy it while we can.” I’ve become convinced that the secret to not drowning in the fast moving current of time is to simply be present in the time and place we are. Sometimes we miss the goodness of what’s in front of us because we’re looking back with either regret or nostalgia. Or we’re distracted by the future with worries of what might be or impossible expectations. But we’ve got this incredible gift of right now. We can’t cling to it, but simply receive what is, as it is, for as long as it is. Even in the hard stuff, there’s something to be grateful for. As my daughter said, “we’ll just have to enjoy it while we can.”

In Isaiah, the prophet speaks words of hope to God’s people in exile, “Comfort, comfort, O my people….” A few verses later the prophet goes on to say, “The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.”

Daffodils will bloom and die and come back again. Children will grow and explore the world. Things will change. Beloved ones will die. Spring, then summer, fall and then winter, and then comes spring again. But God’s love will persist through all of it, holding us through everything. The grass withers, but God’s goodness lives on, urging us to enjoy this incredible gift of our life.

As the poet Mary Oliver wrote in her beautiful poem, In Blackwater Woods

. . .To live in this world

  • you must be able
  • to do three things:
  • to love what is mortal;
  • to hold it
  • against your bones knowing
  • your own life depends on it;
  • and, when the time comes to let it
  • go,
  • to let it go.

2 Comments on “Enjoy it while we can”

  • David DeWit

    May 12, 2017 at 11:46 am

    A blessing enjoyed by the young I sometimes call “the illusion of permanence” – the feeling that even though I see middle-aged people and elderly people, I am lucky enough to be a young person and see no reason why I will not stay that way.

    Some old-timers might remember the song, “Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself , it’s later than you think. / Enjoy yourself, yourself, while you’re still in the pink. / Time goes by, quicker than a wink. / Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.” Sad but true.

  • Jennie Barnds

    May 11, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    So very appreciated during a week where the passage of time has been felt deeply.

Leave a Comment