Thursday, March 31, 2011

When You Only Have Ten Minutes

If you missed your post about a word yesterday (me) because, well, words didn't sound appealing, taste good, or appear to you asking to be read or written... if you missed the goal, missed the meeting, missed the deadline, missed that opportune moment to teach someone about fractions using a recipe... if you missed the phone call, or you missed the photograph waiting to be taken outside your window, or you missed the moment to laugh when your high heel got stuck in the grate on your way to Farragut North (oh, the number of times THAT happened to me last semester)...

Then today I write for you. Just ten minutes of quiet hoping and wondering.

We all miss it. We miss the boat at least three or four times a day, see its bright blue sails slung low over the harbor, watch it, that precious, once only moment, slink out over the open grey sea and we think to ourselves, I think to myself, there it goes. I've really done it this time.

Oh how often we whisper discouragement to ourselves! We say, I should have been, I should have done, I ought to, and then the sighing as we fold the last of the clean shirts and go around the house to distribute them, or as we finally close the computer late at night after staring at the computer screen with so much less than what we had promised ourselves and the universe we would write about Reinhold Niebuhr. And then we crawl under the covers, until the moment of feeling defeated, guilty... that we missed it. We missed it.

I sat at lunch yesterday with a good friend, a cherished mentor, who when I sighed (as I so often sigh) and appeared to be lost in thought, asked What is that sigh, Hil? What's that one about? And then the small teary answer: I can't do it.

I. can't. do it. I pause, tasting those words. The first realization. The scary one. The one that is the source of the guilt in my stomach when I miss those moments - of loving that person really well by a word of encouragement and or of finishing the paper or of going to bed earlier, working out more, taking a good picture for this blog, blogging itself...

And this is the power of Lent in our hearts. The realization that all the time, all the time we've never been able to do it. Accomplish it, win it, succeed at it, this life, this scholarship, this or that conversation... and so exhausted in Lent I come to these words, that trace a gentle pattern on my face as a few salty tears wind their way down: I can't do it.

And the words make me free. Because in the breath after them, in the intake of realization where I think, this is it, the game is up, I've been found out. There He is. There the Cross is. There is the prayer, that I pray all the time, that everything I bear is released onto that Cross and everything I have done and undone, everything I have knotted up or unraveled, everything I have missed, every moment of can't, of failing... There is the Cross. There is Easter. There is Life. There, right there, is His love.

Ten minutes I want to tell you that this is the promise. When you missed the moment, when you missed the boat, when you stood on the harbor and thought to yourself that there went the only chance to do, be, say, act, think... There He is. 


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