An Antique Store
"Each moment is an irretrievable gift; an unredeemable slice of eternity..."
I always thought I lived outside of history--it was somewhere behind me, written in books or stored in pictures, or so far away in the future that it had no relevance for the now. But I had only to enter an antique store to find out why I thought that way.
When we are young and all the world lies before us as a great adventure, the thrill of tasting the new and inexperienced propels us forward, as if paddling down some stream in a canoe, leaving behind us fragments of memories that time erodes away.
The antique store made me return upstream for a visit. There, amid hundreds of thousands of items once considered insignificant and mundane, lay history that happened while I was living sandwiched in this erroneous thinking. Old 78 records, childhood books, playthings--each one jarred the memory of an experience once lived and tasted in rapturous joy. Oblivious to the metamorphosis taking place over many years, as things aged and silently faded out of my life and something newer tantalized and drew my attention away, I had become an evolutionist of sorts--caught up into living a life of constant acquiring and discarding, without realizing the historical value of the moment at hand. And all that lay ahead kept rolling toward me, passing by unappreciated until time one day exposed the true worth and value it could have meant to me when I was so unaware of it.
We may wonder why older folks sometimes dwell on the past. It is because so little lies ahead that has not already been savored and tasted; and walking among memories is a futile attempt to re-capture those times and live them over again--but with a maturity, appreciation, and wisdom that now knows how incredibly precious each moment was, and with a regret that so many were wasted away.
My visit to the antique store affected me. I now saw the importance of now--the moment at hand. I began to see that now was history being made; each and every minute of my life was my history being made. Even the dull and wasted ones-- the ones spent in impatient waiting, in foolish and frivolous dabblings were being recorded for what they were. For a life that is lived without recognizing and treasuring the worth of each moment can easily stretch over decades and leave behind little more than a statistical evidence we existed at all.
Gloria Gaither's lovely song, "We have This Moment" tells us this truth:
"We have this moment to hold in our hands,
And to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand;
Yesterday's gone, and tomorrow may never come,
But we have this moment today."
The other day I was waiting at an elevator. The button "up" had been pushed, but the elevator was slow in coming down. A lady standing beside me turned and said, "It seems like that's all we do anymore is wait, wait, wait!"
She caught me at a time when all of these thoughts about time were running through my head, and I responded to her, "Yes. And what will you and I do with these moments?"
I could tell it caught her off-guard, and as we finally entered the elevator and ascended to the second floor, I continued: "There are many people who would desperately like to have these two minutes we have spent just anxiously waiting. For if we were to add up all such minutes over our lifetime, it might add up to several years. I am sure that if it were possible, they would eagerly accept what you and I throw away as a waste of time."
There was a silent, brief pause as we reached the second floor and the door finally opened. She turned again to say to me, "Thank you for those words...I won't forget them."
And I proceeded on my way, glad for the lesson of the antique shop, and that I had made something of two minutes of my life...
"..we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen:
for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
(2 Co 4:18)
That is how you and I step into history!
MARY E. ADAMS