Hand-to-Heart Moments

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Rain falling on the final morning of summer, I feel the impulse to reach out and cup it in my hands as if any gesture might allow summer to be saved. What can we do on summer’s last day that could make permanent summer’s freedom?

When I speed through my days, life changes at a rate that is incomprehensible.
When I am present and breathe the moment in, life changes at a rate that is miraculous.

I do not ask for a life that is only the latter, for the former allows for life to thrive and for bodies to move and grow. But I do ask for a few moments every morning when I can stand still and see, as if from a distance, the coming and going, hunting and gathering, nurturing and sending, dismantling and creating, connecting and separating of our days. We live days as if they will go on forever, but the meaningful moments ping within us the reality that they cannot.

I am already anticipating the moment tomorrow morning when I send off our oldest into first and third grade. I will make the first-day signs and pose them for pictures. I will post it to social media, even though I know that some will groan and some will judge and others will romanticize the perfect life behind the smiles – all reactions that speak more about the individuals than it does about my own memory making.

I will take the pictures and post them because I am seeking to hold tight to the memory and tuck it somewhere eternal. The internet is likely too eternal than we even realize, but it is a faux-eternal – only a glimpse at the human attempt to change the nature of our lives from fading to forever.  While I use the internet for its “safe-keeping” and “enduring” quality, I do not worship it as the pinnacle of this internal desire to make this moment last forever.

For whatever I capture can never encapsulate the moment when life is experienced in all its intricacies and complexity.  Some moments feel so overwhelming that I am surprised that I cannot physically taste it.

Tomorrow morning will be one of those moments – I will race around my house to make sure we’ve got everything ready, the kids are up and fed, and we get in the car on time. But there will be a few moments – when they come down dressed for school, when we take the pictures, when I approach carpool drop-off – that it will be as if I have tasted a small sweet-and-sour bite – the kind of bite that is so overwhelming that it takes time to melt in your mouth. I will notice the richness of the flavor, discovering the diversity of texture, and the way that it coats your mouth. It will be the kind of bite that either compels me to take a drink to wash it away quickly or to fast from all other bites for a time so that my senses can still try to sort it all out.

In the moments when I want to soak it all in, I place a hand to my heart, as if to signal this earthly body that something eternal has come close and transfigured the temporary moment into something that will remain forever.

But I know that there will come a day when the memory will not come readily to my mind – a consequence of clouded thoughts, a fullness of days, or the luxury of living long enough to encounter perpetual forgetfulness.  But even this is not cause for concern this morning as the rain falls, for my mind is not the eternal being toward which I offer my devotion and worship. My mind is merely a connection port with the Being who created me and stood within me, around me, below me, above me, and through me as the memories were captured.

I devote my fleeting life to a Memory-Holder whose infinitude holds every hand-to-heart moment and sees the beauty in it in depths I only glimpse. The social media memories will do for now, but they only point towards a life not only worth remembering but a Creator whose handiworks is worthy of lifelong praise – a praise that is imperfect when I am afraid of my own transience and finitude, but a praise that is known to be pure by the Creator who sees the heart and understands from where the fears arise.

Time passing is not punishment, nor is it reward – it is the gift that fills air in our lungs and opens our eyes to witness what is before us.

God who lives hand-to-heart,

Grant us comfort in these days when our heart aches with the depth and richness of the human life.
Forgive us and help us to bestow forgiveness upon ourselves when it is easier to quickly cleanse our palates than it is to savor and contemplate the moment.
Hold us back from judging others when what we are really judging is the nature of this fleeting life and our imperfect responses to it.
Invite us to adore your infinitude and nearby presence more than mourn our own smallness and mortality.

May we respond with a full-bodied “thank you” that reaches all the way from the tips of our toes to the hairs on our head.

With hand-to-heart, I give this moment and this life to You
– the memory-holder, life-giver, and infinite-mystery that I adore, Amen.

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