It's funny how our language can take us forward or backward. Back in time can take us into the midst of a memory or it can be words of relief at being at the right place, right this instant. Same words, but with entirely different feelings.
Back in time is both the "going backwards" and the "being right here, right now." Used in either way it expresses some feeling that holds emotion, holds energy, holds heart. When we go back in time, it's usually for a purpose, for a relief, for a life-line. We go back because there is something we are seeking that can't be found in this very moment for us. Going back in time takes me to a special place that I treasure or back to be with people who are no longer here now.
As I move from family to family working in a children's hospital, I'm especially mindful of the holiness of that back in time traveling. Most everyday I witness parents going back. If their child is 3 days old or 3 years old, they tell me a story or two about what their son did, or an expression their daughter had on her face just before. Most everyday I am aware of ways we humans have of measuring time. In my last work with hospice and adults, I daily heard stories from patients or their families of life experiences. Stories of past adventures or celebrations or life lessons. And in much smaller, tender ways, I am mindful to listen for the same as I sit with parents at their child's bedside.
Going back in time, is our human way of holding on with our hearts. It's our way of navigating the present, of being guided by what was most precious in our past. Going back in time is often best done with the heart.
Last night sister, Betsey and I walked up to `Butter and Cream' to buy an ice cream cone from our favorite soda jerk, John Brogan. Along the way we stopped to admire the sunset. Bets took these pictures to mark our journey. One of the amazing things about this life we've been given, this life we're living moment-by-precious-moment is - if I hadn't told you, would you have known the pictures are of a sunrise or a sunset? From a picture, it's hard to tell. You can't really enter in, until you've been invited into the story. And with these words or invitation, perhaps you see and feel these pictures differently.
Back in time can also mean, "whew, just made it." You didn't start without me. I didn't miss the moment. I am here. With you. Right now.
Turning sixty is a waking-up time for me. It is a deep knowing of the preciousness of this time I've been given. Decades now for me of places and people to visit going back in time. And as Brogan nears graduation and Sam is close to getting his driver's license, I'm aware that I'm just in time, whew for what is right here, right now all around me. Back in time, whew. And thank you, dear loving and gracious God for it all.
Working in Family Experience at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. A Candler School of Theology graduate, Lesley has just published her second book, Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon for 29 Days (available on this website). She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan and Sam in Decatur, GA.