by Lyndsey Graves
My Facebook feed is filled with news of football. The BBC is filled with news of war. Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame; Gaza, Iran, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
And of course my first instinct is to decry the ignorance of the American public, and to feel guilty for considering my day productive when I haven’t given a thought to Gaza or, really, anyone besides myself. All our middle-class Saturday joys feel so pedestrian next to such colossal grief.
But then again, what were any of us supposed to do today? There is a time for feeling the weight of responsibility to the world; but maybe this particular Saturday isn’t it. Perhaps it would have been a heinous negation of a gift to sit around feeling sad right in the middle of fleeting football season – because, after all, what else is there to want for the world? Chex mix and conversation and touchdown shouts with friends and family, gifts indeed; there will be books and dancing and football in the kingdom of heaven.
To reconcile these two – to discern the time for laughter and the time for mourning – takes more wisdom than I have. All I can really do is put more words to this state of affairs. When you major in theology there is this phrase you hear a hundred times, and I should be tired of it but I never will be. I feel like I can carry my hope and longing and gratitude all in this six-word phrase when I borrow this description of life on Earth: here we live in “the already and the not yet”.
Already life is here, abundant, amidst French onion dip and fight songs. But not yet are we absolved of the charge to make this world better. Already Christ in his extravagant grace gives us permission to take a nap; but not yet does the world know peace. Already, Eucharist, a taste; not yet, the wedding, the feast.
Maybe all we can do is stay resolutely here, dwell courageously in this tension. It’s all too tempting to pretend everything is fine, ignoring the suffering we can’t see. But it’s also too easy to get harried and discouraged over all that remains to be redeemed, forgetting how much beauty God surrounds us with every day. Neither will this do.
Because God does want us to love life; this I believe with all my heart. What a relief to know it is not my responsibility to resolve this tension in the end. I am always forgetting that God, too, waits for a feast. Only God is big enough to encompass all the wondrous everyday joy of football season next to the incalculable tragedy of the bombs; only God need not fear time; and only God holds all together in the shadow land of the already and the not yet.
You can find more of Lyndsey's writing at her blog [to be honest] and you can follow her on Twitter @lyndseygraves.
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