It’s been a busy month. The first weekend in October, I drove to Plattsburgh, New York for my 50th high school reunion, and the second weekend, I drove to Castleton, Vermont for my nephew’s wedding. Neither Plattsburgh nor Castleton is exactly the end of the world, but you can see it from there. The upside of the remoteness of both towns is that getting there involved hours of driving through the Berkshires, the Adirondacks, and the Green Mountains in peak foliage season. Some of the views were stunning.
The changing of the leaves, the reunion of old classmates, and the marriage of my youngest nephew moved to the front of my consciousness the subject of time. The newlywed I knew as a toddler is now very much an adult. The onetime quarterback of our high school football team now walks with a walker. Most of the guys in the Class of ’72 who once sported shoulder length hair are now quite bald, and the star athletes of yesteryear are generously endowed with large paunches and heavy jowls. Thank goodness, I haven’t changed! Why then did so many of the reunion attendees have as much trouble recognizing me as I did them? Could it be that, along with the other ravages of aging, their eyesight has failed? Or could it be that for too long I’ve been engaging in massive denial of my own mortality?
In the upcoming final weeks of the Church year, the Sunday scripture readings will focus on the limits of time. Certainly, there are more pleasant topics to ponder as the temperature drops and the daylight wanes. But there is much to be said for timely reminders of time’s passing such as high school reunions, family weddings, the changing of seasons, and biblical passages that foreshadow the end of the world. Wondering how the 50 years since graduation managed to slip by so quickly and unnoticed; watching a nephew recite his marriage vows and asking the old question from “Fiddler on the Roof”: “Is this the little boy I carried?”; being confronted with one’s own aging self in the aging features of one’s peers; raking the dead leaves that were, just a few short months ago, the welcome buds of springtime; and listening to God’s word as it seeks to wake us up to reality, all this and more can have a salutary spiritual effect on us. They can make us keenly aware that time is a precious gift from God, and that the best time of all to attend to this gift, to appreciate it, to cherish it, to use it wisely and well is … NOW!
–Fr. Bill Beaudin, OFM