Recently a friend of Abbott’s, our 5th grade daughter, had the realization that we were moving away this summer. She became panicked that the date was so soon and how could it possibly be. Abbott’s wise response was “It’s okay. We’ve got time…we have two whole quarters!” What a delightful way of framing reality! I have come back to this exchange in my mind and heart several times since I heard it because, like many people, I find it so tempting to jump ahead of the present moment when, in reality, the present moment is what we truly have.
Every four years our nation comes back to the present moment in a powerful way on January 20 when we inaugurate the president and vice president of our country. It’s a remarkable thing really, this peaceful and orderly resetting. Oaths are said and visions are proclaimed to be sure. But it is also a hard reset, whether it is a first term or a second term, when we collectively remind ourselves who we are and what we are about as we embark on the next four years. “It’s okay. We’ve got time….we have a whole four years.”
In fact there are a lot of moments to reset and reclaim our selves this week, to remind ourselves what is at the core. In addition to the inauguration, we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, as well as the annual remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King’s life and legacy. As a parish, we are approaching our annual meeting this Sunday and next week marks the halfway point of our sunflower season. And personally, I had a few additional moments of celebration including my 45th birthday and, today, by my 15th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood. Lots of opportunity to remember, renew, recommit and reset.
I was struck by the fact that the first event of the first workday following the inauguration was Tuesday’s 57th Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service held at the Washington National Cathedral. I wonder if you caught any of it? If not, I highly commend it to you. The political leaders of our land and diplomats from around the world gathered together with leaders from our various faith traditions to rededicate themselves to a higher purpose, at once larger than our human institutions and at the same time hinted at by them. Liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat, Jews, Muslims and ‘nones’ (no religious affiliation) gathered together to be reminded that our well-being is a corporate endeavor, and that we are at our best when we hold ourselves to a vision higher, larger and truer than our present reality. As people of faith, we are called to remember, renew and recommit in relationship with a good greater than ourselves. What a moving and inspiring way to launch “the next four years.”
I am struck by the powerful combination of vision casting together with the essential importance of offering of concrete real steps that can be undertaken in this moment, in this day, toward that vision. When Dr. King cast the vision in a compelling way, he also provided concrete steps to begin moving us into that vision. He offered this wisdom:
Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
And it is true, always true, that we have the responsibility to decide whether we live our lives ahead of ourselves or fully embrace every moment of every day, taking first steps in faith even when we don’t see the whole staircase. How do we, both personally and corporately, embrace both a vision and the present moment steps toward that vision?
How do we, with Abbott, see clearly what we do have and make the most of our time here and now?