03 August 2006

sparkles and atoms

Today I started reading The Cloud of Unknowing. (Check it out here.) The anonymous author wrote in Middle English in the 14th century. Before I'd always dismissed it as one of those weird Medieval contemplative texts: you know, maybe an interesting read, but probably loopy and irrelevant. Uh, wrong! It's surprisingly insightful (but it takes me a while to catch on with its King James-ish language and mystical subject!). No wonder Christians throughout the ages have considered this a classic work - turns out they actually knew what they were talking about!

Apparently, this mysterious writer has me pegged - Anonymous knows how much I wring my hands over my use and misuse of time. (Maybe I'm not alone in this?) After a short description of how time is made up of tiny units called "atoms" and how we will give account to God for our use of our life's "atoms," the author anticipates my distressed interjection (my paraphrase):
"How can I give an account of every single moment I've spent - I, who have to this day never taken note of how I spent my time during my 24 years of life? [Dude, Anonymous even pegged my age! Well, at least for a couple more weeks.] ... Help me now for the love of Jesus!"
And then the author relieves my distress (again, my loose paraphrase):
"You said it well: "For the love of Jesus!" For in the love of Jesus is your help! Love is such a power that it makes all things common. Therefore, love Jesus, and then everything that is his will be yours. Because he is God, he is the maker and giver of time. Because he is human, he is the very keeper of time. And because he is both God and human, he is the most just judge and the one who asks for an account of how time is dispensed. Therefore, knit yourself to him by love and by belief, and then because of that knot you will be able to see time alongside him in the way that he does, and alongside all those others who are also knitted to him by love: with Mary who was full of all grace in keeping time, with the angels of heaven who can never lose time, and with all the saints in heaven and on earth who by the grace of Jesus rightly heed time because of love."
In all my years of hand-wringing over my poor time management, never has anyone suggested to me that maybe the answer isn't really establishing boundaries, buying a new day book (which I use for about 2 weeks and then lose), or mapping out a schedule. Maybe instead I'd better concern myself with something altogether different: simply loving Jesus. The Cloud of Unknowing offers an alternative way to measure time: not by hours, days and years, not by tasks completed and tasks left undone, but simply by "sparkles." These are the moments, the "atoms" when the soul leaps toward God out of love for God alone, like "a sparkle from the coal." That, I feel, is the best, most appealing way to orient my time and measure the quality of my life: by every momentary blaze of love toward God.

8 comments:

Donald Philip Simpson said...

Hmmm, Birthday soon.... Was I aware of this? Me thinks this needs to be made better known and celebrated!! Perhaps a belated Mentoring Group (inclusive to all of those in the gathering) get-together...

Glad your back and (Oh my) BLOGGING so much

Kelli said...

Yep: the 17th. (I don't usually broadcast it, but I am sorry for keeping you in the dark. ;) )

As for blogging so much... it's so nice to be out of school and in one place with time to think! But it's not likely to last long...

Amber Joy said...

How does it feel to know DPS will be ALL OVER commenting on your blog withing seconds of its posting when your beloved roomate won't?

Kelli said...

Ha! Um, I'm cool with it. If I were there, I'd say in my most cheesy announcer voice, "This website is inclusive to commenters and silent viewers alike." (Aren't you glad I'm here instead?)

Donald Philip Simpson said...

Actually, I commented 3 hours and 6 minutes after KB posted - my old age will not allow for such quick reflexes, as my brittle bones will snap... :)

Besides, I have to stay in both of your good graces if I want to be able to go sailing, fishing, and have some sort of Chili Cook off at your wonderful place...

Kelli said...

DPS - please! As if you still need to earn our good graces. I hope you don't feel offended by my roommate's jealousy of your speediness ("brittle bones" and all, you still manage to beat her every time).

Donald Philip Simpson said...

LOL!! Ouch... my poor little fingers...

Amber Joy said...

You guys are hilarious.