Before my daughter Ana was born, I struggled to believe that she would ever come. I thought the struggle would end when she was born and I held her for the first time. But the anxiety had only just begun.
One of my friends says that having kids is like having your heart walk around outside of your body. But the same friend also tells people that her kids are God’s children on loan to her and her husband. What an attitude of surrender! And she lives it out too. That is the posture I daily try to adopt with little Ana. Though I fear and though I worry, I must trust God all the more. For if I don’t, what hope is there? I will become a psychotic helicopter parent, never allowing my kids to experience the world, other people, life itself.
As I walked home from the library recently, meandering through the park with Ana in the stroller, I looked down at her smiling, quiet, sleep-induced expression—peace. grace. beauty. love. In that moment I understood the inexpressible love of the Father. In that moment all life seemed suspended around me: the trees stopped swaying, the crickets stopped chirping, the birds stopped swooping, and all I could see, hear, or know was perfect joy.
It was one of those moments of richness that you are so caught up in, there is no sense of time. But as soon as you recognize the beauty of it, you are drawn right out of it, back to reality. The moment flits away like the swallow, vanished out of view. But what have we to hold onto but moments of richness like these?
The philosopher who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes calls it “Hevel,” the poor English translation being “vanity.” But the Hebrew essence of the word is more like “vapor,” something so fine, so crystalline, that it vanishes upon touching. Moments like this are not vain, but they are vaporous, demising into thin air if we don’t capture them, hold them.
The author goes on to ask what we can do in life but, “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die?” Though one may interpret this as Plath-like dread, it may also be interpreted as beauty, richness, and grace. God gives us these little glimpses of the heavenly, but they are gone in but a moment. Hold on to them, remember them, relish them. This is what a life lived richly means. That moment of pure joy could not have been bought, it could not even have been shared…only savoured.
I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. None of us know what tomorrow holds—perhaps joy, perhaps heartache. So we must savour the present. We read the author of Ecclesiastes saying, “eat, drink, and be merry,” into our post-modern, consumerist culture. But I have a sense that a better understanding might be, “Taste, savour, enjoy.” Live richly in the present.