Every Wednesday morning for the past few years (how many is it now - four? five?) a group from the congregation has gathered for breakfast and bible study at a restaurant on Vancouver's west side. For an hour we chew on a chapter of scripture (and eggs) discovering that over time it, like manna, provides nutrition. This past week we finished reading the book of Revelation and decided next to tackle Genesis (yes, all fifty chapters, week by week - apparently we'll be meeting for at least another year of Wednesdays). Alongside of reading Revelation over the past twenty weeks I took the opportunity to read Eugene Peterson's "Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination". I really like how Eugene writes and what he writes. But what caught me last week was a little quotation at the beginning of the final chapter of his book. It is from Walker Percy's novel "Lancelot": "To live in the past and future is easy. To live in the present is like threading a needle."
That's the truth. Living in the present moment takes all of one's concentration. It is so easy to be distracted by what lies behind and what lies ahead. Paying attention to this moment, this day, this season in ways that keep me focused on the truthful word to say, the faithful silence to keep, the gracious action to take requires all my energies. And this is not only true for an individual, but also for a family, a congregation, a people.
On Sunday this quotation wandered its way into the sermon. I noticed the eyes lighting up that tell a preacher that these words have voltage. Then today I looked up Walker Percy on wikipedia and read the brief bio of his life. The story of suicides that marred his childhood only added more power to this line that he put into the mouths of one of the characters in his novel. Living in the present when the past is very troubled, with a future that may hold more unseen troubles, really is like threading a needle.
Thanks Eugene ... and Walker.