Months ago, on the Fourth of July, I stepped on a plane for the first time, and with a peaceful certainty knew that the One who called me away already awaited my presence in Germany. This arrival, seemingly strange, yet somehow familiar, marked the beginning of the sweetest gathering known as The Catholic Worldview Fellowship.
For three weeks of the summer I lived on the grounds of Schloss Wissen, waking up to breakfast and smiling fellows before settling in the chapel for morning prayer. And what a gift it was to walk back to the mill before class began only to find the coffee pots emptied. This meant that there were more fellows present with hearts seeking His than there was enough coffee to pour...To realize that we were all living in those minutes with a desire for the simple joy before us, the blonde and sweet joy, dare I even say the joy of going without. My steps back to the castle were steady, yet without rush, as though time remained paused. Silence was interrupted by the movement of the gravel under our feet, just before stepping back into innocent chatter, dodging pool sticks, and strolling into the half empty classroom, all while being serenaded by a melody two rooms over. Time resumes. I pick my window seat with a breeze and the morning sunlight reaching in, touching the dated page of my opened journal. It is then, during class, that I am sobered by the reality that time was never still. Time ever passes, and its passing brings change: change to our days, to our knowledge and our hearts, our cultures, our worldviews.
Minutes before noon the chapel is filled again for the daily celebration of Mass, another precious gift. It is here, seated in the dark wooden pew, that I once more feel the ache in my chest for time to stand still, slipping into the same contemplation as before: How does a moment last forever? Soon enough, my ache finds its rest at the moment Heaven is opened and Earth is embraced by the arms of God. Our hearts are held steady as His body is placed in mine. Amen, I say. And though never paused, time somehow resumes as we step out of the realm of eternity and onto the sea of pebbles continuing over the moat. Lunch waited for us in the mill, which became more of a home with every meal. Here is where I started to see something quite remarkable about receiving the Eucharist with the same souls that accompanied me in the seemingly ordinary moments of the day, such as stacking our dirty plates or discussing the draft of an outline or pouring a sip of sweet wine upstairs. Perhaps this is fellowship.
Perhaps this is a small glimpse of Heaven and perhaps this explains my desire to clinch these passing days. It’s a great paradox to consider how one fleeting moment can reveal the sacredness of eternity. That, I realize, is the talent of time, particularly the talent of the present. Slowly I have come to understand that this is the rhythm of my worldview: a constant weave between finite moments of the ordinary and sweet glimpses of an eternal home. This rhythm comes to me as natural as breathing. For just a moment, time is paused by the nostalgia of what is to come. I delight in this stillness; I inhale. Just like oxygen fills my lungs, my soul receives its divine nourishment from stepping into a quiet chapel or a large basilica, savoring a glorious sunset, kneeling before the tabernacle or the tomb of a saint, praying for and with one another. My soul receives its divine nourishment in each celebration of Mass, in the fifteen minute breaks, and in the embrace of a smiling Carmelite.
Then I hear a familiar whisper, “The Mass has ended. Let us go in peace to love and to serve.” The crucifix is held high and carried on. And though never paused, time recommences as I step outside of this heavenly realm. The final note of the Salve concludes, class is dismissed, my plane lands...each of these moments a cue for time to resume and for me to exhale.
But an entrance hymn will sound again; I am sure of it. Time will slow as He unveils His glory once more, sparing us another moment, or an eternity, in His presence. He knows the rhythm; the rhythm is His.