The Longest Day of the YearPosted: June 23, 2016
The patients of the anticoagulation and diabetes clinic in which I work often make statements which prompt some reflection. “Well,” he said, “today is the longest day of the year.” He referred to the summer solstice. This day holds out the longest period of daylight of the year. This day is not longer than any other day — it lasts only 24 hours. However, this particular day holds some degree of dread for me. With the very next day those wonderful, lingering, warm daylight hours begin to gradually shrink. They shrink to the dim, gloom, and dark of late autumn and winter (I live in western Washington).
These expanded daylight hours are precious to me, and I want to make the most of them in some way. Yet, I do realize that every day is precious — even those prior to the winter solstice. Each day is precious. The longer I live — the older I become — this truth becomes more evident to me. Every day is of value and is to be treasured, because some day I, and everyone, will have no more days to which I, and everyone, will awaken.
When younger, much younger, it seemed it took forever for a day, a month, a season, even a year to go by into another increment of time. Now, being middle-aged, the experience of time is compressed. Each day remains 24 hours long. Each week lasts 7 days. Each month lasts its allotted number of days. Each year has its 365.25 days to orbit the sun. It, again, is that my experience of time is compressed, because each day, each week, each month, and each year becomes an ever smaller segment of my span of life. When I was ten years old, a year made of one-tenth of my experience of life. The memories of the movements of my life were more diffuse, more dilute across the palette of my consciousness. Now, being 58 years old, a year makes up 1/58th of my life experience. The movements, motions, activities and my memories and experience of them are compacted — they are concentrated within my consciousness. Now the days, the weeks, the months, and the years seem to “fly by” at supersonic speed as I now experience them. Now each day, month, and year is more greatly valued.
Understanding each day to be a valued gift does not make me want to fill each day with excitement and new experiences — I do not need to fulfill a “bucket list.” Rather, I must find the significance in each moment, even the mundane, even the tedious, even the frustrating. Each day is to have its moment, or moments, of redemption where an interaction, conversation, is made better — even in the smallest way. Now, I come to the presentation of some profoundly valuable advise from St. Paul:
Now I urge you brethren, warn the idle, encourage the faint hearted, help the weak, and be patient with all. Do not repay evil with evil, but always pursue the good — both for one another and for all. Rejoice always. Pray constantly. Give thanks in all things for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thes 5: 14 — 18).
With his advise (really commands) one, with faith and the working of God, can transform any moment. Joy can replace sadness and dread. Prayer can replace cursing and bring its blessing into the moment. Thanksgiving even has more power. Thanksgiving for even the unpleasant circumstance or person can truly transform the situation because it is made yours: you have fully entered into it to transform it and all found in the particular spacial setting. The transforming power of moving in joy, prayerfulness, and thanksgiving is declared by Christ’s actions in the Upper Room, in his last hours of life:
And while they were eating, taking bread he blessed, broke, and give it to them and said, “Take, this is my Body.” And taking the cup, after giving thanks, gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my Blood of the New Covenant which is being poured out for many” (Mark 14: 22 — 24).
Christ takes ordinary bread and wine and they become his Body and Blood.
When we act in solidarity with the moment and those in it we live eucharistically and extend the miracle of the Eucharist to all and all things around us. This I find to be profound. Especially when I reflect on the brevity of life. Especially when I reflect on the fact that so many live brief lives, or lives that may know little joy, peace, health, dignity, and freedom — even the animal life around us. By living eucharistically in solidarity with those people and creatures in the moment one can transform any life and situation — even if it seems insignificant within the context of the “big picture.” Even if it’s for but the time allotted to an appointment in an anticoagulation and diabetes clinic.
Let us seize all of our remaining days with the intent of transforming them with joy, prayer and thanksgiving!