As my daughter went to cross off the date on her calendar before she went to bed the other night, she realized that her marker was not where it normally is: next to the calendar, in the folder she created to hold it. She selected another marker from her desk, in red, to make X’s on her calendar.
“Please don’t use that one, sweetie,” I said to her.
“Because it’s permanent and I really don’t want you to accidentally write on the walls with permanent marker. Here, use this one.”
“But it’s not red. All of the other X’s are red.”
“Okay, let me see if I can find another red one.”
And there it was.
A cherry-flavored, Mr. Sketch marker.
I handed it to her and she accepted it with a smile. Thank God for Mr. Sketch.
I’ve been thinking a lot these days about the difference between that which is permanent and that which is temporary.
In the Jewish tradition, we put rocks on graves instead of flowers. Flowers wither and die. A stone, that which is more permanent, represents the lasting presence of one’s life and memory. There is beauty that comes with permanence.
On the other hand, our lives are full of moments, responsibilities, and sorrows that are just not meant to…last. Temporary, too, is good for our souls.
For example, when something awful happens to us, we find solace in knowing that eventually things will get better. We are comforted by the notion that time heals wounds. I have a magnet on my fridge that reads: “There are far better things ahead than any we may leave behind” (C.S. Lewis). Temporary is a blessing in these moments.
But when things are amazing, rarely do we want them to be temporary. When we return home from vacation, we might feel like the time passed by too quickly. When we meet up with an old friend, we always wish we had more time. When we hug our child in our arms, we don’t want the moment to end. When we meet someone who deeply affects us, we might feel like we never want our time together to end.
These are the moments, when we bask in happiness, that it is difficult to appreciate the temporary.
I am one of those people who never likes to say “goodbye.” One time when I was on the phone with my father, of blessed memory, I was wrapping up my conversation with him and said “goodbye.” Boy, was that a mistake.
“Don’t say goodbye. Say “so long,”” he said to me.
At his funeral I shared this story and wished his soul “so long.”
And so, I’m wired with a desire to keep the good permanent. Like a Sharpie marker, I want moments of beauty in the canvas of my life to last…forever.
And then it dawned on me.
I, too, am temporary.
Okay, so what I really mean by that is my body is temporary. For sure, I do believe that the soul lives on; no doubt about that.
But my body is temporary. It’s here for a finite time. It’s purpose is limited to my time on this earth. When it comes down to it, God is the only permanent. I, too, am temporary.
And so if I can bless the temporary essence of my own being, is there a way that I can bless the temporary moments in life that I want to last forever and ever? Is there a way to praise the ephemeral without craving more? Is there a way to thank God for that random “messenger” who said just the right thing I needed to hear today, as she ebbs and flows out of my life? Is there a way to thank God for this person who was sent to me for a beautiful reason and now is gone?
Thank God for Mr. Sketch.
Thank God for this beautiful moment of temporary. It may not last, but while it was here, I appreciated every single moment.