This is a year of anniversaries and “significant round numbers” for me. Last week I officially hit my “late thirties” (38); this week is our eldest son’s tenth birthday; May sees the tenth anniversary of my starting my current job; and my wife and I will, God willing, celebrate our fifteenth wedding anniversary in July.
I am, in short, a mid-life crisis looking for somewhere to happen.
Which is why I must try to take to heart a lovely little nugget from the James Alison essay on which I posted yesterday.
It comes in a section where Alison is describing the “moment” in discipleship that he calls “stuttering creativity”. “Stuttering creativity” is the stage at which – following the initial “stripping away” of our old, rivalrous forms of identity and belonging – we start to find ways in which we can love and create “out of nothing” rather than in reaction to others. Out of gratuity rather than reciprocity.
Alison observes that this moment includes a degree of “faffing around” as we try to be creative without having fully discovered what it is that we have been called to create. And this is what he goes on to say:
It is part of learning thattime is not my enemy, but is very spacious, and I don’t need to succeed immediately, or to order, because it is eternal life that is behind the hints of creativity which are being born.
Isn’t that wonderful? Hitting “significant round numbers” in our lives tempts us to measure our life against a worldly timetable in which time is our enemy: in which it is cramped and brief, and if we don’t succeed now then we will find it has drifted (or run) away from us.
But whatever we are doing in our careers or in our families or in any other aspect of our lives, however important and useful it may be, is only part of a larger project of creativity and renewal that has all eternity ahead of it. So we can relax.