Do you remember the Michael J. Fox film, Back to the Future?
I am there!
Lost in the vast living, breathing past of so many centuries of history, a sensation somewhat uncommon for many North Americans.
Seeing with eyes and heart and hands the gracious communion of this tiny sliver of the present moment.
It is not the present of all people, surely, for there is much more present going on in the world.
And yet, it is just as true, for it is mine and I am here.
It is also, in some quantum way, the future which is being created in ways I, and we, cannot yet comprehend.
Let me tell you a story.
Yesterday, I stood with my sisters in this journey, on the steps of the ancient church of Santa Maria Novella in Firenze, Italy surrounded by a great many beings having wholly other experiences.
For a brief moment, we stood in the sunlight and gawked at the sculpture and architecture and beauty around us.
Then, we leaped a bit further out of our comfort zones — well, I suspect I wasn’t the only one leaping — and, led by a gifted teacher with a frame drum, we sang Psalm 150, there at the entrance to the basilica.
Actually, we chanted the Psalm in Hebrew. Out loud. In public.
(And yes, those of you who’ve known me since our seminary days, may gasp in surprise that I, of the Hebrew learning challenges, might tell such a story. Turns out Hebrew is easier to sing than to read!)
I would imagine that people stared but I do not know for sure for I simply sang.
(More gasping in surprise permitted…)
The confluence of histories and cultures and belief systems and personal journeys was stunning.
And in ways too soon to know, the future has already been changed for — and here I will speak only for myself — I have been changed.
I have a great deal of hope, though. You see, one of those standing with us was a mighty woman-growing on the day of her ninth birthday, reminding us what it is to view the world with wide eyes and endless curiosity.
Eventually, of course, the time for singing ended and we went on to witness wonders like Botticelli frescoes and one of those ancient miracles of marking time that involve a tiny hole in a rose window and a line of gold ever so precisely inlaid in a marble floor. And, perhaps my favorite, the garden in which Michelangelo’s David was carved, for that is another story I know.
Then, too, the obligatory visit to the gift shop and an admittedly rather surprising encounter with a gender-fluid toilette in so ancient a place.
It’s been a long time since I watched Back to the Future. Or Pleasantville, for that matter.
Oddly, perhaps, in this moment, they’ve both become part of my story, too. And our story, if we’re listening.
Let everything that breathes, sing praise!