Isabella received a watch for Christmas, pink and perfect, and it puts me in mind of my Holly Hobbie watch, which I received as a young girl. It marked time for me then just as this pink watch does for Isabella now. How as a child I became aware of time—so differently than my present self. How the wait to Christmas was seemingly endless, and the passage of New Year distinct, and all time in between magical, mysterious, melding—disappearing. Playing blissfully. Unaware of day or hour.
These many years later—some 30-odd years since that watch—I find the passage of time not quite the same, though it is the same measurement. It feels faster, more relentless, unforgiving, sometimes merciless. But it’s not without its mercies. The simplicity of childhood may not be there, on adult radar, daily—both in our personal lives and in the public sphere, in our own time and in time immemorial. The travesties of this past year seem the mercilessness of ages rolled into one, suggest no passage of time or growth, yet here we are, on the verge of 2016. Should auld acquaintance be forgot? The song receives more attention at our mark of year’s end. Should we forget from whom and where we came from? Shouldn’t we honor that by living our best now possible, in a time we—-still—-mark by watch and calendar, but which indeed has inevitably marched on? In a year of mercy, can we find ourselves—-still—-grace for the journey? Grace for those who suffer the buffets of time in ways like and unlike us. When I imagine Tamir Rice’s parents, or the parents of Newtown (among the many of these past years), and their inexplicable sadness at knowing how, year by year, their children’s growth would have looked like….I feel both despair and a greater urge to make use of time as gift, given to me to cultivate mercy for not only myself but others. For those I love and those I don’t even know.
So when the New Year comes to us in a blaze of silver and gold, even if my 40+ body is asleep with the weariness of parenthood, even if caught in the frenzy of celebration, even if sad at our losses in this past year, even if rejoicing in the possibility of the new year—I will bear in mind these same moments for others. I will think of the children who are no more because of malice and chaos and a host of our sins. I will think in gratitude for their presence and ours in this lifetime, that the march of time will push us toward becoming the change we wish to see, proverbially. In reality. In our now.