I am spending time in a place in the mountains of Virginia with dear friends and colleagues. It is a place not many miles from Tinker Creek, where Annie Dillard went on a pilgrimage.
There she wrote of “spending” time, not in the passive way we normally use the word, but in it’s literal, more active (and troubling) sense. Each thing we do or don’t do each day is a trading in the currency of minutes. “Spend the morning,” she said. “Spend the afternoon,” she implored more emphatically. “You can’t take it with you,” she proclaimed, the words on the page evoking the cadences of an Appalachian country preacher in full invocation.
As I sit in this circle of friends, framed by mountains bathed in the morning sun, I have only one quibble with Annie. Time spent with friends and family, time spent in community, time spent cultivating love, time spent giving and receiving grace…it may pass, but it is never gone like a twenty at the grocery store. I believe, in the mystery of God’s grace and God’s time, it remains.
Paul said faith, hope and love remain when all else has passed away. I believe he meant that in the economy of God there is a kind of time you can spend, and, when you find yourself at the end, reach in your pocket and find you were able to take it with you after all. A walk with a friend by a running stream passes time and comes to an end, and yet remains, by grace, in the heart of God and in mine as well.
Could that be what Jesus meant when he said, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…?”
Time for me to stop writing. I have yet more time to spend and treasure to store.