Remember the Rio Olympic of 2016? Three long weeks and a short eternity ago.
After receiving an alert for the start of the Paralympics this morning, I had the thought: “Rio seems like an age ago, was all the fuss worth it?”
At this point, the naysayers will likely shake their heads and say “No, of course, it wasn’t” before returning to their porridge, but do those head shakes relate to every big moment in a person’s life?
Our big moments, whether relished, grieved firsthand, or lived vicariously through others, are markers that define us in some way.
I can tell you where I was on September 11, 2001 when a plane ploughed into the side of the Twin Towers (at a music rehearsal at Carey College); on September 25, 2000 when Cathy Freeman won the 400 metres at the Sydney Olympics (watching in my living room while preparing to fly to the stadium for the next day’s competition); on September 15, 2011, when we laid a memorial stone to celebrate the first anniversary of The Big Table (in our backyard). Or on 08/07/06 when Fi and I were married (at St Ildephensous Chapel in New Norcia). I can even tell you where I was when the Meckering earthquake hit on October 14, 1968 (I’m told I was being bathed by my mother while the house shook!)
Big moments are big markers. Distance may accrue quickly in their wake, but they’re still big. And most of life happens in between them.
At this point, I should probably wheel out some pithy quote about life and numbers of breaths and being taken away, but I can’t remember it, and it’s not my thought.
My thought is of the significant moments. That life should not be porridge grey—even if some days seem that way. There should be praise; there should be moments of ecstasy and celebration. There should be opening and closing ceremonies, memorials and anniversaries, First Sundays and big sundaes, long-tabled parties and little ‘clinkies’ of celebration. Because they not only dignify the big stuff, they make reference points for later reflection. They give shape and context to the long game of life.
We regularly celebrate communion at The Big Table. It’s a marker meal – a call back to the foundation of our salvation. We baptise men and women who are making a public declaration that ‘Jesus is Lord’; people forever changed and transformed by Jesus’ big action towards them. The celebration of a baptism is a moment that marks a thousand others. Not a supernatural act in itself, but a celebration of one big divine invitation in Jesus, and 10,000 reverberations beyond it. A celebration of an invitation to be free, to follow, and to be filled.
“Never despise the day of small beginnings,” Zechariah prophesies. And never despise the big moments either, for in doing so, we’ll rob ourselves of the joy that was ours for the taking.