In Between Time
This (“in between time”) term summarizes so much for us. We all seem to be living in the time between one thing and another.
For youth. For our youth, this is the time between when our youth have been granted adult bodies and a certain knowledge of how the world works - and the time when they can put those bodies and their talents to good use. And no longer does such a description simply apply to the challenges of being a teenager; our culture has extended this time of waiting past its natural breaking point, well into adulthood. This creates tremendous dissonance and tension between what their biology and morality tell them to be natural and correct and what the world tells them is the right way they should live. It is also a time of great anticipation as they wait for their chance to “make a difference”, but this anticipation can be incredibly stressful and brings strong temptations for nihilism, hedonism, self-absorption, superficiality, and despondency.
For Adults. For many adults, this is the time between the time when we began working for a comfortable future and the time of its realization. There are those who would use biology or economics to define this “time in between” even more succinctly for us; if we are no longer having children and no longer working, they say (or sometimes just imply) that we have outlived our usefulness. If we buy into this deception, then we feel we are between the time when we have done all the things we can that are worthwhile … and the time when we take up our new abode with our friends in the parish cemetery. For adults, this ‘in-between” time invites the same sorts of temptations it does in the youth (nihilism, hedonism, self-absorption, superficiality, and despondency) – though with admittedly lesser intensity.
For this parish. For this and many other parishes, it is the time between the decline of the communities that allowed the old ways of doing business to work so well, and the time when we are comfortable evangelizing the people in our neighborhoods and workplaces; people whose ancestors may have come from a different part of the world than ours, but who need Christ every bit as much as we do.
- Liturgically, it is the time between the Ascension of Christ – the end of His bodily ministry on earth – and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It is a time when we can mistakenly feel as if God has left us; exchanging a promise for future “comfort”.
And isn’t this just the way most people feel; that if there is a God, that He formed the world in ages past and long ago left it to its own devices. For these people (which I fear even may include some of us), we live in a time between our creation and that of our imminent destruction (if not in 2012, when a dead calendar runs out of pages; then in several billion years when our sun finally grows strong enough to boil our seas.
But this is not how we were meant to live; it’s not just that many of the facts are wrong, the attitude is completely wrongheaded, deceptive, and deadly.
It is true that the world as we know it will eventually come to an end; just as it is true that the hearts within our bodies will eventually stop beating. But the world was not created for destruction, and, though death is one of the few “sure-things” worth investing in, it is not what we were born to do. Only a fool would buy a car in anticipation of putting it into the junkyard; and we are fools if we think of ourselves as nothing more than future food for the worms.
It is true that we are living in the “time of the dash” (between the year of our birth and the year of our repose as written on our tombstone); but it is more true that we live in the time of the eternal “now”, when there is no end to the beauty and glory that can be revealed to us; no end to the love that can drive away all our anxiety, angst, and despondency.
God is not living in the time between the time He created the world and the time He will remake it in perfection. He is not the “watchmaker” who created the universe and then left to it to follow the logic with which He imbued it.
God is not living in the time between when He brought you and your soul out of nothingness and sent you out into the world and the time when He will bring you back into His bosom.
God is beyond time, but continually reaches into it to offer and share His Unity and Perfection with all who would have it.
The words of Christ offered up in today’s Gospel; “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are [one]. (St. John 17:11.) [; these words] are not the words of a God that stands off to leave us to simply await our own destruction. They are the words of a God who has made every moment of our lives pregnant with the possibility of glorious revelation.
In another place, Christ tells us that “where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them”. This is the fulfillment of Christ’s ministry: to bring union to us and between us and God. This is the only thing that can turn the temptation of seeing all time as time “in between” one thing and another into the ability to see our time here together as what it really is: the opportunity to participate in the thing we were truly created for.
You can let the world deceive you into thinking that this time you are living in right now isn’t nearly as good as times used to be or as good as times will be down the road if you follow its advice; but that way of thinking is not the way to find true joy.
- It won’t reconcile the built up tension within the lives of our teenagers and youth.
- It won’t bring meaning to our adults.
- It won’t bring growth to this parish or others like ours.
The way to satisfy the longing of our youth, bring meaning to our adults, and bring growth to our parish and our diocese are to live our lives completely in Christ.
Accept Him into your heart; make Him the center of your life; let His grace fill your life; let His love be the message in your communication with all the people you meet. Let His prayer – the desire for union of all creation through Him with God the Father (strengthened by the Holy Spirit) – be on your mind throughout the eternal now as you go through all the moments of your life.
Do not wait for glory. Do not wait for love. Do not wait for joy. It is here now. And it is now forever.