It Goes So Fast
Last evening we had dinner at the home of Joanna (Takagi) and Josh Habermann in Manoa Valley. Joanna was a kid, our son Nick’s contemporary, when we were here at the Church of the Crossroads in the 1980’s. Forty years have gone by.
We lived then in Manoa Valley not too far from where Joanna and Josh live now. Looking out from their deck I could see below a street I drove each day as I took Joe to Punahou school, having dropped Nick earlier at Noelani Elementary. Then I, a thirty-something, was off to work at Church of the Crossroads. Last evening a beautiful rainbow arched over the Valley.
It all brought to mind the poignant lament of the character, Emily, in Thornton Wilder’s play, “Our Town.” You may recall that Emily, having died in childbirth, asks for one final return to life, which her companions in death warn her is not a good idea. Granted her wish, Emily, now unseen from life’s edges says to the living who cannot hear her,
“Let’s really look at one another! . . . It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed . . . Wait! One more look. Good-bye , Good-bye world. Good-bye, Grover’s Corners . . . Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking . . . and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths . . . and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth,you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it — every, every minute?”
I thought of those morning commutes with my two young boys — Laura had not yet been born. It doesn’t seem four decades ago. As Emily put it, “It goes so fast.”
And now with Joanna and Josh’s own children, ages 11 and 8, dancing about and playing the piano as their mother and aunt, Megan, had done all those years ago, Emily’s further words seemed so, so true. “Oh, earth, you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it — every, every minute?” Of course we don’t.
But on occasions like this, a return to a congregation and community that had been home and family for an important chapter of lives, such sentiments are nearly overwhelming. As I mentioned in my last blog, we are here now to take part in the 100th anniversary of that congregation, Church of the Crossroads. Such an occasion inevitably emphasizes times past and the passing of time.
Lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by other sorts of things, not so beautiful, that consume many of us these days. Climate change, American politics, threats of default, artificial intelligence. Forty years ago, there was another litany of threats and problems on our minds.
If we don’t “realize life” and how precious and beautiful it is in every moment, perhaps such re-visiting as we are now doing wake us, up at least a little. Earth is still, despite it all, “too wonderful.” And, we can pray, “to really look at one another,” to worry less about the worries of this day — real though they are — and to see more the beauty of life and of time made precious by its passing.
“Oh earth, you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you.”