Carpe Diem

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The title for this column is hardly original; it’s a phrase that has been used for a long time, often quoted from the Roman writer Horace who was writing poetry a few decades before the birth of Christ. It’s often translated as “seize the day,” though many might suggest that it’s closer to “pluck the day” as you would choose to pick a piece of ripe fruit. Furthermore, the suggestion in Horace is that we do this plucking with the understanding that nothing is certain, and that we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Today, this might be expressed with a statement like “YOLO”. But however you chose to say it, it’s something that we haven’t always done very well, especially in the church.

This year, we have been separated from loved ones, and separated from even those who live here in the province during the most recent lockdown; we have been separated from our social activities, and we are all social creatures (even us introverts). For us in the church, we may also feel that we have been separated from God. Frankly, it’s difficult not to feel that way. Online worship and conversations can feel far away—on the other side of the screen. Until very recently, the other side of a screen was not something that you could even interact with. You watched the show, but weren’t expected to do more than that—no laughing emojis; no comments section; no having to remember to unmute your mic to share your thoughts. 

So how do we, as a part of the church, pluck the ripe fruit of the day in the middle of a pandemic? It’s a time when our default is to seek out comfort foods, fall back into old patterns, and possibly even to give up hope that things will ever get better. It’s difficult to want to seize something that doesn’t seem very good, that’s unfamiliar, and isn’t what we want it to be.

Here’s what I’m thinking about that today though: as difficult as it is, we need to find the good things and “pluck” those. I am writing this right before the deadline for this paper, so I have the distinct advantage (privilege really) of being able to look at the other submissions to Anglican Life before I finish this column. I see articles about hope, and about gratitude. I see stories about us continuing to do good things in the midst of difficulties. There are people seizing these days—taking what’s good and using that.

And when it comes to technology, for some it’s been a steep learning curve, but part of this seizing of the day today is to embrace life on screens. Tune in and contribute. Join the Zoom Bible study. Tune in to the live streamed worship, and watch the the prerecorded ones too. Be a part of things that are available today. It’s ripe fruit ready for the plucking.

When we come back together, when it is safe to do so again, as much as we might want to fall back to what was, we need to seize what is. As Horace pointed out when suggesting that we pluck the ripe fruit of today, we do not know what tomorrow will bring. I’ve never known anything quite like COVID-19 to make that incredibly clear; the world can change in an instant. It’s more important than ever to work with what we have, to take what’s good, and not to fall back into bad habits. Whatever the day gives us, that’s what will feed us.

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