By Rev. Canon Christopher B. J. Pratt
“Five hundred twenty- five thousand six hundred minutes…so dear. How do you measure a year”?
There are a wide variety of options found in the lyrics of the song, “Seasons of Love” which was a part of the award-winning Broadway show, “Rent”, first presented twenty-five years ago.
In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles
In laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?
I invite you to use whatever media tool is available to you and listen to the song. The music elevates the message of the words and gives an added sense of urgency to the need to offer an answer to the question posed for all of us.
How do you measure a year in your life?
A new year provides an opportunity for new ways to generate an answer to that question. The empty pages of a paper calendar hold such promise. What will fill the five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes in your life in 2022? Will you shape the year or will you be shaped by events beyond your control?
At the heart of how each of us approaches 2022 is the essential reality which we may not fully grasp. Each moment of life is a God-given gift. We cannot speed up or slow down the pace of time. How we view each minute allows us the opportunity to fully value and appreciate what a wonderful gift we have been given. How we use each moment will provide an insight as to how much we treasure the gift of each day.
In her address to the opening session of the 11th General Synod of the Church of England, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second reflected:
None of us can slow the passage of time and while we often focus on all that has changed in the intervening years, much remains unchanged, including the Gospel of Christ and His teaching.
The thoughts offered by a woman of faith, who, at the age of 95, has witnessed and lived through many telling moments of historical importance, has much to give to us as we embark on a journey into a new year. The search for a solid and strong foundation upon which we may build our lives has, as the Queen indicated, no further to look than the Gospels.
The Church measures a year differently than the world in which we live. Beginning on Advent Sunday, the community of faith uses signs and symbols to establish a framework around which we may build a strong spiritual foundation for our day to day living. There are seasons of celebration which may point to profound moments of insight guiding us through the daunting moments of life. Throughout the year the Church pauses to remember and celebrate the lives of faithful servants of our Lord, who by their words and witness provide stories of how being a faithful follower of Jesus is not simply a challenge in our contemporary world, but has been a reality of discipleship through the years.
The transition from year end to the beginning of a new year may be highlighted by watching the celebration and fireworks which ring out around the globe. Watching the march of time as nations mark the transitional moment from one year to the next is a wonderful experience.
People who remember the joy of travelling, may also have the opportunity to remember their visit to a special location which is being highlighted in the media reports of New Year’s Eve. Others may simply note that the new year is a time to buckle down and tackle whatever new year’s resolutions they have claimed will be given preference in the days that lie ahead. However, the fireworks’ flash is gone in an instant and resolutions often get lost as other priorities rise up to claim a place of importance in our lives.
As each calendar year draws to a close and a new year dawns, I often recall words which were offered to a world in crisis during times of great uncertainty. In 1939, King George the Sixth during his Christmas radio broadcast, quoted a poem which had been written by Minnie Louise Haskins. As he spoke to individuals who were grappling with the essential challenge of survival against great odds in that time and place, it seems to me that the words he shared have not lost their power over the years.
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of the day…
I suspect that the year ahead will be filled with challenges for us as we live in a world filled with uncertainty and turmoil. Yet at the heart of our lives is the reality of our faith. We step out into a world filled with the darkness of floods and fire, injustice and great needs. We step out into a world where the causes which demand our time, our talent and our energy seem so prolific that we may feel overwhelmed. We step out into a world where fear of infection limits our ability to be with our family and our friends. Yet for all of that, it is my hope and prayer that each of us will try to pattern our lives in such a way where we may claim each of the five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes as the gift they are and seek to use them well in the service of Our Lord.
Rev. Canon Christopher B. J. Pratt has retired from full time parish ministry, but continues to offer priestly ministry in the Diocese.
(Photo: Alexey Savchenko/Unsplash)