The Celts called them “thin spaces”…natural settings that intersect spiritual openings and create eternal moments.
In the fast-paced frenzy of life as we know it, such moments seem fewer and farther between than ever before.
The frenetic energy of everyday living and the white noise of technology’s incessant intrusion routinely drown out the voices of those we most long to hear.
For me, it is essential–perhaps life-saving–to seek out these thin spaces.
They are my touch points where time and eternity meet. These are the junctures where heritage is grafted into lineage.
One such space is the porch swing.
Each year we vacation in the mountains. Spending time in the forest, chasing opportunities to glimpse a deer, a fox or a bird playing in its own sandbox heals so much of the damage I experience in the grind of daily demands.
A few of those years–like this one–we get to experience the cool mornings and uniquely dramatic sunsets in these mountains with those closest to us. Our kids and grandkids.
Sitting on the elevated deck of our friends’ log cabin, watching giant pines sway and listening to the variegated cacophony of the forest symphony is one of the most therapeutic experiences I know. Sharing it with the little ones who bring joy and meaning to my life is one of the most significant pleasures I experience.
No moment compares with being sandwiched between the little lives that are the future of my family on a porch swing.
With the swaying of the swing eternal moments become temporal and temporal things become eternal.
Past and present converge to create future. What I have absorbed in living for nearly six decades gets squeezed from the recesses of my soul and absorbed into the receptacles of these younger hearts in the symbiosis called love.
Deep calls to deep.
Sure, sometimes it is pure silliness–like when I craft epic tales of Flanagan and Shenanigan–conspicuous weavings of fiction thinly veiling with the presence of two of the grandsons. Other times it is a form of relational Jeopardy where asking and answering questions about nothing in particular becomes particularly important.
Then there are those brief moments in the middle of the swinging when time stops, hearts touch and the real meaning of life slides seamlessly from one generation to another.
I like to think of them as junction boxes. Connections where energy is exchanged, love is enriched and life is enlarged.
Several key things with eternal significance happen on the porch swing.
Power is transferred…the perspective of years, the privilege of identity and the place of belonging are kneaded into the next generation. The quality of what passes between is concentrated and intensified when the distractions of the daily are removed and moments of leisure are milked for their meaning. The journey that a family has traveled and the stuff that makes that family what it is gets deposited in the souls of those who will carry it on. The power of history is woven into the potential of destiny.
Torches are passed…the passion of what builds wonder, bequeaths wisdom and brings pleasures to my heart is revealed to the curious minds of those who share my bloodline. My loved ones learn what makes me tick, fills me with joy and really matters. The delights that have enriched my life and the things that have filled it with meaning get etched into the hearts of those who will explore and expand on these experiences.
Memories are made…the past is poured into the present to create a preferred future. As lives interface in quiet moments and new adventures are enjoyed, memories are made and legacy is shaped in the spirits of those who will one day look back and recognize the radical importance of these seemingly routine moments. Hopefully, they will pass the lessons along to those who follow their footsteps.
Honestly, most of life rushes by in the muddle of dailyness and so much that is important gets lost in translation.
But here, in these sacred seasons of Sabbath, are touch-points where what is important and beautiful is gifted into those who carry it on for another generation.
These quiet times shape the next generation while transforming the previous.
The Psalmist sang of the vital nature of these moments of transfer:
“My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old—things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.” (Psalm 78:1-7)
Snuggling on the porch swing, making s’mores at the fire pit, reading in the rocking chairs, battling over board games…I will immerse myself in these moments in time to make them moments that last forever.
Welcome to the porch swing.