Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The In-Between Time

Here in Massachusetts, spring has been slow in coming. We have had a couple warm days, but they have been surrounded by cold, cold, and more cold, and snow still covers much of the ground. Usually by this time, I at least have some daffodils pushing through the earth and reaching for the sun. This year, they are still firmly under cover. Yet, the promise of spring is there. It will come.

In the latest issue of St. Anthony Messenger, Kyle Kramer writes of this "In-Between Time," in which we are stuck in the darkness, but trust in the light to come:

According to a Christian understanding of history, we live always in the in-between time. Jesus’ incarnation, ministry, death, and resurrection revealed how the kingdom of God is dawning, but 2,000 (often bloody) years later, the kingdom hasn’t yet fully flowered, and it won’t until the end of time.. . .

When we tend it with care or leave it undisturbed, the natural world preaches the same message. Through seasons and cycles, nature moves toward a better future of cleaner air and water, deeper topsoil, and beautifully diverse, abundant forms of life.

At the same time, there’s also a dark thread of suffering and ambiguity woven into God’s growing, evolving creation. Taking that seriously, yet still trusting in God’s unfolding promise, marks an important difference between Christian hope and mere optimism.

This kind of gritty, realistic hope survives by daily, practical acts. In the in-between time, we pray; we plant trees and gardens; we care for children and parents and the poor; we invest our time and talents in our communities; we work for justice.

Like a good storyteller, God keeps us in suspense about how things will turn out. But since God is a good storyteller, we can trust that it’s all worth it.

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