On my way to a meet a friend for coffee in downtown Littleton yesterday morning light crept over the eastern horizon, refracting through scant moisture in the air, turning the sky gray, then purple, then pink, then finally Colorado blue, giving birth to a day that some say will be remembered for its numerical uniqueness, 12.12.12. On 12.12.12 as I drive, I realize much more of passing significance might happen this day. That this will be a day filled with moments: people, sights, sounds, emotions, hopes, disappointments, surprises, and flavors I will not experience in just this way ever again. Here, in honor of 12.12.12 are 12 of them.
- Driving east I see the street lights, red and green (Christmas colors), a flash of yellow, glow as if they too know what time of year it is. I feel a strange peace. These traffic lights, awash in the light of a new day, will not appear this soft, this festive five minutes from now. Can there be beauty even in things we mere humans create? It seems so.
- I’m surrounded by silence pregnant with . . . Don’t fill it, you’ll kill it, I warn. So, I let it sit, weigh on me, entice me with its promise, realizing what I hear or don’t hear won’t be spoken again.
- The parking lot is full. On another day, in a more narcissistic mood, a parking lot full of cars already at 6:30am. would have left me impatient, worried about being late. Instead I stroll a street I’ve never walked and commiserate with those already off to work and notice the contrast between new and old buildings like walking in and out of shadows from the past coloring the future.
- The smell of coffee and history mixes inside Littleton Train Depot, now called Romancing the Bean. This place ended its service as a railroad depot on December 31, 1981 long before anyone dreamed up trendy, flavored coffees. But, as with so many things thought dead, the depot has sprung to new life and purpose.
- My friend and I drink coffee and share pieces of a cinnamon roll. I’ve not eaten a cinnamon roll in a year and won’t again for another year. It’s sweet. Gummy. One bite is enough. Suddenly we’re talking of how, if we are living in God, we, like God, are living in the past and present. We don’t simply forget the past. It is still here being healed and transformed in us.
- As I leave Romancing the Bean, I see something I haven’t seen in a long time. A copy of the Rocky Mountain News. The last from February 27, 2009. I grew up reading the Rocky every afternoon, mainly the comics and sports. Then later real news. I don’t read any newspaper any more. Ironic how on a day recognized for something that will never happen again, there sat a voice now silent.
- I retrace my steps back to my truck but all has changed. It’s busier, the light harsher. I have to hurry. I’m beginning to forget to hold on to these moments. My next meeting is not close by.
- I’m late, self conscious, thinking of my apology. Living already in the future.
- As I enter, the laughter of my friends and colleagues fills what would be, without them there, a sterile meeting-room environment. Forgettable, meaningless. I’m convinced there will not be committee meetings in heaven. But the people who call meetings–even this sin forgivable–will be. As I walk out the door, I feel glad to be among them today.
- I make it to the food bank barely on time. The look on a young mother’s face gathering food is furtive. She wears a practical and thankful and firm and full-of-business mask. But her eyes let me in, ask me to see her for who she is and say, “I’m more than this.” Then she turns away.
- Finally at home, later, after losing too many moments I meant to hold on to, writing this, I hear, “Yohoo.” The cheerful inflection in the red-head’s voice as she trails in the door after wrangling five-year olds all day brings me back to attention. We talk; we eat. The day of uniqueness almost over. Have I seen anything?
- The sky is dark indigo. There are stars up there, somewhere. Not as many as when I would lie in my back yard in summer and try to invent my own constellations. But those moments are past. Now there’s too much ground light and my eyes are older. And I’m busy. But also I ask, which stars are dead already and only shimmering in death, moments long past that I am only now noticing?
Mundane day, I know. So 12.12.12, amounting to a mere 1,440 seconds, a day like millions of others before, a day containing a myriad of events, people, and impressions that will never happen just this way again, flicked by. I know I missed something. But I put up a net and caught a few moments of passing significance. And tomorrow maybe I’ll catch more.
What did you see?