Thirty years ago it was 1984, and I remember clearly thinking, while in school after reading the book 1984 by George Orwell about, what that year would be like. On January 1st that year, I listened to WBAI in New York, as various people read Orwell’s book straight through. Because of his novel, the year became a marking place of the future; he chose that year because it was the reverse of 48, the year he wrote it. And in 1984, I was aware, for awhile, that I had made it to the future. And then again when the year 2000 - a year I had always wondered what would be like - arrived; I noted that I had made it there. I had always thought what it would be like to live in the next century. Even 2001, was a moment of note because of the movie by that name. But in each case life seemed to go on and the momentary marking was simply a passing remembrance and life continued along in a most ordinary and ever speeding way.
I remember visiting historic sites when I was a child with my parents and my siblings, we even have movies and pictures to remind us. But what is of more interest and lasting effect upon me is not the site, but how young we were, how time has passed and styles changed, memories formed, and the relationships expressed and understood with these dear family members.
We look toward the monuments of time and place to mark our path, our way. When Jesus said he was “the way” he pointed not to the monuments nor the markers we make, but to the presence of God in the present moment with us. More life changing epiphanies are encountered in the quiet times alone, when we slowly reflect and allow our minds to be still, than with the crowds gathered to note the changing year, passing celebrity or honored site. The experience of God is always present waiting for us, the blessings of God are always available, and we return in worship regularly to remind ourselves of this reality that is so easy to overlook or let get lost from in much more trivial things.
The various and important ideas, accomplishments and goals we seek and look towards can easily engulf our thoughts and focus. Good intentions, and plans that make sense, are nice to act upon and keep us busy. But the call of God, the simple acts that might not seem the most important, the places we might pass by, the people we might not notice, the plans that might not make sense— somehow and through prayer become known to us as where God is present. Our own plans can be like trees scattered upon a landscape where we often hide. The peace of God waits to land and rest within our hearts but there needs to be a clearing, a place set apart for it to rest. The Summer months are a good time to reflect and prepare places and times to be still, and receive grace again. And when we can find and stay focused upon this present experience and understanding of God, then we ourselves become the monuments of time, the landmarks that we have so often sought.