In the MEANtime I Heard the Holy Spirit

My pastor spoke a word in prayer during our services that halted my listening, his flow for me interrupted by the utterance of a single group of letters, a compilation I had surely heard most of my life.  What is it but the Holy Spirit when that happens, when the light changes ever so slightly, when our ears become so acutely attuned we can only hear the cricket’s chirp, when the aromas of a pumpkin pie block out all other scents? I know it is the Holy Spirit that sharpens my focus this finely, pulls me into a sacred space where wondering and imagining and considering feel much more like prayer. When he uttered this one word, one among many as he prayed over and with his congregation, I know the light must have been pouring through the skylights above to rest exactly upon me, so sure I am that his word was meant for me. I wish I could say I remember the context, the way in which he used the word, yet the Holy Spirit amplified this word, typed it in bold and enlarged the font until that word ran everything else off the page, out of my awareness. He said “meantime.” That is how I know something holy was underway, this word I have used and listened to and read countless times, it hit me right then that I had been languishing in the MEANtime.

Since this moment in church, the word has echoed and reverberated and made itself known in my thoughts. I’m trying to understand and live into that one word, to roll it around on my tongue and consider how I have become that very idea, how I have allowed that word to rule me instead of the Word of God. MEANtime. He said something about us resting in the meantimes of our lives and I was convicted right in that moment. Longing for what has already happened, waiting for what will be, the waiting for me is agony.  I suffer from an inability to live only in my current moments, not my desires, not my wishes, my views cast not forward to the possibilities, not backward to my sins, but my eyes fully filled with the joy however tiny in my midst.  The MEANtime, the time between where I was and where I am going.

Every time we set off for a trip, whether to Chef’s hometown an hour away or week long adventures to explore another state, Plum asks about 5 minutes in, “Are we there yet?” Wanting to be “there” where all good things surely reside, not being cooped up in a car seat, peering out the window as we pass what could be for the hope of something more interesting, more rewarding, anticipating the destination instead of enjoying the ride, that time becomes the MEANtime. In between when I was happy and the future joy I carry in my satchel of hopes, that space feels coated in hurts and worries and fear and discontent. Considering my moments as waiting for my dreams to happen rather than watching others I failed to imagine come to life before me, I miss joy. Is it any wonder the time feels mean, feels empty, feels as if disappointment reigns? Another moment I didn’t receive a call or text or email from my daughter, time appears wasted as the seconds fall into minutes and hours and days and weeks and now years of missed sunrises and butterflies hovering about the flowers on my porch, sitting in ugliness of those moments because I don’t have what I want. Would I remember to notice and savor the joys if all was really just as I want? It is true that my spirit is lighter when I am sharing a laugh with my daughter, but does that joy cause me still to miss what God is laying exactly in my path? What if getting what I want leads me to rest there and stop reaching for Him?

MEANtime is not about what is happening or not to me, although I have settled into that discomfortable space, registering and tracking all the despicable and dishonorable events, an ugly scrapbook of malicious and maligning moments that I can pull off the shelf to peruse in my least grateful moments. Because really that is it, to be in the MEANtime means I am devoid of gratitude, my ability to see and nurture blessings lost in the sensation of licking wounds and sharing my misery. Surely this time feels MEAN to God as well, appearing stuck in a railcar with Dementers who remove all joy from my soul, a crushing weight in the darkness that I select over the possibilities of  walking the trails filled with autumn reds and oranges and the sharp cries of bluebirds. Yes I have used this in between time to be mean, to fail to see and amplify His glory, to shout and sing about those flowers that emerged without my efforts and the sun that rises in spite of me and the gifts of the owl calling in the trees outside my bedroom as I drift off to sleep. Paul tells me to be content in all things, Paul doesn’t notice MEANtime, he rests in joy moments that are surely filled with aching muscles and tired eyes and too many days working without rest and yet he speaks only of contentment, of each moment as if it were the most important of his life. Paul has shared some time with Dementers as well, he is actively choosing joy. He doesn’t seem to be experiencing any MEAN time, even in prison.

I am stepping into his journey, this discovery of what the moment holds and what God wants me to hear. I am seeking out the gift of this day, this one right now, and praying that God’s timing allows for reconciliation as well. I am a work in progress, I still have my dreams. But I did notice the mums on the front porch today as Plum and I waited for the school bus and I lamented that he is soon to be 7. The flowers were shining bright yellow into our day even as the sky was overcast. Also, he may have a better appreciation of time, this child who squeezes out every second of playtime before the bus takes him away. I told him it is crazy, it is ridiculous that he is going to be 7 in only two weeks. My sweet little grandson, the child who brings me joy, replied, “But Gran, it is just an age.”

This is just an age, it doesn’t have to carry any other weight, it can just be what it is. It doesn’t have to be the MEANtime unless I choose that. Today I am leaning into the holy space of Magnificenttime. I pray you find your moments and seconds are filled with kindness and blessings today.

 

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