Four minutes remain before my homemade fat-free pita-pizza is ready to pull from the oven. Normally, four minutes are a fleeting fifteenth of an hour. Now that I’m hungry, though, four minutes are 240 successive slow-stalking cats. I turn my back on the clock, blending (and tasting) an icing for the dessert I anticipate enjoying post-pizza, hoping the seconds will bound forward when they realize no one is watching.
The moment Jesus ascends from the Mount of Olives, the disciples are counting the minutes until his return. God’s messengers ask them why they are staring at the sky, at the same time charging them to keep watch until he returns. But by the time Peter writes his second epistle a few decades later, time is passing so slowly that he cites a Psalm from Moses about millennia in order to assure the faithful that the wait will one day be done: “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday already spent—like a watch in the night.”
As we wait what sometimes feels like eternity—not even finally to sit down at the banquet to which he invites us, but often just for the current moment to pass—it might help to snack a little on the tray he has already put out for us: the word’s bread, prayer’s cup, even a little dessert in our closest loves and loyalties. Far from dulling our interest, the distracting morsels and sips we take from eternity’s tray whet our appetite for the supper to come.
To a week attending the moment by sampling heaven, setting our taste for the day time lunges at eternity.