2106 is a leap year with 53 Fridays and 53 Saturdays. 366 days to tally as four seasons, two solar and two lunar eclipses, standard and daylight savings time, a presidential election day, civic holidays, religious feast days, work deadlines, school term schedules, tourneys and championships for every sport, and of course, our personal birthdays, wedding anniversaries and milestones in recovery. We measure time by more than watches and calendars.
As a high school senior, I was ‘kind of a big deal’ (what high school senior isn’t?). Top grades in a top school, yearbook editor, student council officer, societies and activities against the backdrop of college applications, and in my case, an interior pull toward the Jesuit novitiate. As the stakes swelled, my grip slipped and screw-ups swelled until one chill March night, a cop busted me for 50 in a 35 on a rain slicked road and froze me in mid-flight. A friend prodded me to unload my gathering woes to my Dad, a step that loomed to me as fearful as accosting Zeus.
Zeus was compassionate and kind. He, himself, already held growing concerns that my legs were slipping out from under me. His underwhelming advice: “take one day at a time.” It turned out that “one” day was exactly right, because the very next day at school, my advisor called me out for my crappy attitude and cockiness. I knew he was right and I had a solution, or at least the thread of one. “One day at a time.” That, and call Dad.
In the years to come, I fecklessly accelerated into the curves of life’s choices, yielding miscues and messes, careless of my own and others’ needs and interests. I sped from pasts (last night, last semester, last boss, last marriage) toward futures (next deal, next job, next wife, next drink). Eventually, the day, the hour, the moment of grace arrived, slowing, quieting, opening time to see, accept and live in each moment, each “now”.
A learned business guru once wrote that “strategic planning grasps the future outcomes of present decisions.” The 4th century Indian poet, Kalidasa, wrote, “Look to this day, for it is life. The very life of life.” St. Theresa of Liseux wrote, “trust God that you will find meaning and value here and now.” On my first sober anniversary, my sponsor gave me an edition of John Singer Sargent’s paintings. In the overleaf, he wrote: “…so much beauty collected over a lifetime. Today, we each add a sketch to our own lives. Before – perhaps not even a line.”
Saints and worthies are united in their counsels to make no new year’s resolutions to fix, reconcile, improve or achieve anything, anything at all beyond the twenty-four hours at hand. I can only shape or change me, my own attitudes and behavior, and only at this moment. Our impatience, our urges and ambitions are distractions. Horace declaimed, “seize the day!” Yes! See, explore and revel in this day. Let it reveal its gifts as being gifts to be gauged, used well and treasured much in thanksgiving.
What is dominating me, distracting me from this moment?
What fears, desires, attitudes, behaviors, habits cloud my vision of this moment?
Whose needs and gifts and love are with me now and what is my response to them?
How does my faith help me enrich my grasp of the Presence in the present?
O God, “I AM” – Grant me a moment’s grace, a moment’s peace, a moment’s love.
Martin C. P. McElroy
from Bumper Sticker Healing: Slogans in Recovery