09 January 2011

Textured time

Shadows cast by our star tea light holders on the blond wood grain of the kitchen table
With the beginning of this new calendar year my "retirement" nears the three year mark.  Living far distant from any Episcopal churches and being -- still -- prohibited from attending the mission church I used to serve, I am out of touch with Episcopal diocese in which I am canonically resident, as well as with the larger church.  I don't miss at all the daily crush of responsibility and the endless list of tasks needing attention.  The church is not a moment-by-moment part of my life any more.  Interestingly, though, I find myself still thinking in liturgical terms, especially where the calendar is concerned.

The liturgical calendar is no different than any other way of marking time.  It moves season-to-season, as in Advent to Christmas to Epiphany.  Other ways of marking time also involve seasons -- sports seasons, bathing suit season, fashion seasons, and, of course, those astronomical, spring, winter, summer, autumn. 

The most obvious time dividers, or course, are the month-to-month and the occasion-to-occasion, personal and public.  Where the occasion-to-occasion category is concerned, I think of my niece's nearly ecstatic anticipation -- involving a Facebook countdown --  as her most recent birthday approached. 

What all these concepts have in common is that each of them, more or less, are human constructs.  While the movement of the earth in its orbit and on its axis is involved in our globe's days and nights, months and years, as well as the seasons, humankind handed out the names, thereby assigning meaning. 

However it is that a person watches the movement of time -- the last day of a month, leading to the first day of the next; living for the nod from DNR to take to a favorite deer stand, taking on or giving up something for Lent -- those ways help give time texture and depth and energy.

That explains the star-shaped tea light holders on our kitchen table, casting curlicue shadows around our supper.  Early January to mid-to-late February is enriched with focus on stars and on the idea of light being cast on our existence. 

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