“God willing and the creek don’t rise.”
The first time I heard this saying was at seminary. My Southern Baptist friend Tammy Abee said it when I told her I’d meet her for lunch. Many years later a member of the local mosque in the town where I was the Episcopal priest said it without the “creek” part for any meeting or event we planned. If I said, “I’ll see you at the church on Friday.” or “I’ll meet you at the mosque” or “Let’s talk later.” Heather’s response was always “God willing.” Recently I discovered that the Quran commands every Muslim use this phrase when speaking of future events. It doesn’t mean, “If God favors our plan.” which is how I’ve always heard it, but rather that the future belongs to God and not to us.
Around the entire world, celebrations have been suspended, work has ceased, cars are parked and many of us are alone. I think every day of my mother living in her house on the side of a mountain in Tennessee not seeing people in the flesh for weeks at a time. I sometimes think she might as well be in a rocket up in space looking down at the world, outside of the time we measure by the rising and setting of the sun on opposite horizons. Even that measurement of time is in the end, a myth. The only way it belongs to us is because we made it up.
Whatever “time” is it is not ours.
God gave the Sabbath God’s chosen people. When She arrives on Friday evening the entire assembly rises and turns to the doors of the synagogue to greet Her like their bride. All work must cease. Anything that makes us imagine how important we are because of our responsibilities is put away and we are faced with the beautiful and frightening reality that our worth has nothing to do with what we accomplish in time.
Our lives and everything is a gift from God. Whenever we can move through the made up hours and days mindful of that, perhaps we are living like saints.
What are you doing today? Do you have no choice but to go to work or did you lose your job during this quarantine? Do you feel moor-less, tired, frightened, lost?
Psalm 46 has a prescription:
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Your sister in Christ,