You know those emails that periodically make the rounds in cyberspace, the ones that announce events that will only happen once in the next 5,247 years – more or less? Sometimes the events those emails portend occur as a quirk of nature. Other times they are the result of a counting methodology or a calendar phenomenon. And oh, yes, generally something terrible will happen if you fail to forward the information to everyone in your address book.
One of the most famous of those events in my memory is the ending of the Mayan calendar. That occurred Dec. 21, 2012, amid all manner of speculation about whether in fact the calendar really was at its endpoint. Regardless, the same frenzy is not likely to happen again in my lifetime.
More recently, there were the Camelopardalids, a brand-new meteor shower. Astronomers reported that the Camelopardalids would be caused by streams of dust ejected by the comet in the 1800s that, for the first time, would cross Earth’s orbit May 24, 2014. Though the shower turned out to be a dud, it was still a once-in-a-lifetime sort of event.
Then, of course, there is Halley’s Comet, which returns to the Earth’s vicinity about every 75 years. The last time was in 1986, and it is projected to return in 2061. I remember 1986, but do not anticipate being around in 2061.
Just last week, I received one of those emails detailing another such mystifying phenomenon. Here is the gist of it – along with the dreaded consequence of keeping this information to oneself:
This is the only time you will see this phenomenon in your life! August, in 2014, will have five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays. This happens only once every 823 years. The Chinese call it “Silver pockets full.”
So, send this message to your friends and in four days money will surprise you. Based on Chinese feng shui, whoever does not transmit the message … may find themselves poor.
It is true, of course, that August will have five instead of four full weekends – and we would be all the poorer for not taking advantage of this “extra” free time. And, face it, there is something rather unique about such an event that should not be denied.
However, in those moments when we can shift our hearts and souls from chronos time (calculated by clocks and calendars) to kairos time (calculated by the eternal ticking of God’s clock), we will discover that every day is unique. No two days are alike, and each day will never be lived or experienced in quite the same way again – not in 823 years, not ever.
Every day we have on this Earth is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Every moment that passes is the only time that we will experience the phenomenon of that moment in our lives. The colors of the sunset will never be quite the same combination of pinks and oranges and yellows. The cold water of the Maine ocean will never cause our legs to cramp in quite the same way. The trusting hug of a child or the gnarled hand of an elderly friend will never feel as strong or as fragile in quite the same way – ever.
Oh, there will be more sunsets to make our hearts glow. There will be cold ocean water lapping over our feet, making them tingle, on another day. A child will hug us again, and that elderly friend will grasp our hand – maybe tomorrow, maybe next week – but never in quite the same way. Each experience will be unique.
And so, as the summer rolls on, relish every sunset, every drop of cold ocean water, every strong hug, every fragile hand held. Cherish every moment you have as the God-given, once-in-a-lifetime moment that it is. If you do, your life will be all the richer for it, and you will find yourself blessed.
The Rev. Nancy A. Foran is a pastor at the Raymond Village Community Church (UCC).