Saturday, December 17, 2005

A moment in time.

Henri Nouwen got me thinking about mountaintop experiences. My wife and I read a daily devotional in the morning at breakfast and in Mr Nouwen's Bread for the Journey, he has been writing about the fullness of time and mountaintop experiences over the last few days.

After reading them though, I feel he has missed out on a lot of what he is trying to get at. What he misses are a kind of poignant life moments, moments when you get a small taste of God's grace. Or perhaps another way of putting it, moments that stand still, or moments that are much bigger and more full of life than most moments are. It is a difficult thing to get at in words. It is difficult to describe and difficult to explain to someone what exactly you are talking about. I remember GCRC's former senior pastor Rev. Mark Verbruggen preaching a sermon about this, (although the content as long slipped from my memory). I have grown to enjoy the moments I am trying to describe, moments that drip with enjoyment, that ooze with life and I try to be on the lookout for them. I had one such moment today.
I was part of a fund raising effort with the Osaka YMCA (where I go to school to learn how to read, write and talk). We were raising yen for the summer programs they have for children. A group of us went to a nearby busy train station and stood out front (adjacent to the crosswalk) (and yet mostly out of the way). We did some carolling and and the Japanese amongst us called out to the passersby letting them know who we were, what we were doing, and like kinds of things. The end of each little short monologue was punctuated with Onegaishimasu and more polite variations thereof (which is laden with a "I beg you, implore you, please from the bottom of my heart" meaning). My part as well as singing Christmas songs (in Japanese) was to echo the Onegaishimasu along with everyone else in the group after each spiel.
As we were doing this in a bitter windy city sort of cold, we were singing Angels We Have Heard on High (the one that goes gloooooooooooooooooria in excelsis deo). I looked upward, across the intersection was a tall building with a glass facade, that reflected the beautiful blue sky and white puffy clouds. If I held my book up enough it caught the sunlight in the time before the sun disappeared around the corner of the building behind us. We carollers were huddled together for a little extra warmth. Every change of the lights another assortment of people came by. As I looked up I felt small, almost as if I could see myself from above, almost as if I could see the whole situation from a third person's perspective, and yet could still be me. The moment stood still, it tasted very sweet and for me it was filled with liveliness. I could almost touch it.

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