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Time is elusive and cannot be seen directly. Time is relational. It is not measured ticks of a clock but in moments in relationships. Today I encountered two moments when the stream of clock-time was rendered irrelevant by the passage of days outside of time measured by a clock.

Today we were authorized by our insurance company for additional time in temporary housing. They pay our rent during the time we cannot live in our home. They approve housing in blocks of time deemed reasonable given available information. The approvals are extended or shortened by events in our lives. Today’s approval takes us to the anniversary of the fire and two months beyond.

I visited with an old friend with whom I had not spoken in some time. It was if time had not passed.

The fire and the first time my friend and I meet seem like distant memories yet with a little kindling are fresh and vivid as moment they occurred. My friend and I tried to remember when we meet and decided it was 30 years ago. Time and geography have separated us but the warmth and interest in each others’ lives has not changed. We still laugh about the kids who are old enough that they are becoming grandparents themselves. We touched on being musicians at church camp. We reflected on how much we wished we talked more and how the years had separated us. Time stood still and the very moments stopped their inevitable movement forward. Thirty years were as naught.

Thirty years, 10,950 days, is far more than nothing. Fourteen, 30-days stand between us and our home. Thirteen, twelve-30 days we stood in our home. Less than 30 minutes after we evacuated our 4,680 days in the house were ash. That moment is encapsulated never to be changed.

Old friendships are rekindled; their moments encapsulated in time. The laughter and tears of time shared is set in our memories. Not all of moments with old friends are frozen like the moment of the fire. They move on and develop new facets and encompass but not encapsulate shared memories.

Some memories bridge from the encapsulated time to the encompassed time linking ideas and feelings into a continuous stream.

It is cold outside now, days worthy of December. I remembered some 9,000 days ago my friend, my spouse and I being musicians together at a retreat arising early to wake the campers with music. The moment I examined was early, around 5:30 am. The retreat center was in the mountains and being a summer facility,had no heat. Spring and Fall were as one. When it was cold, as those seasons are wont to be, everything was overtaken by the icy weather. As we stood in the dark cold and sang our breath, as one, floated white towards the heavens. We huddled in a tight group trying to stay warm enough to keep fingers on guitars and mandolins singing over our shivering and chattering teeth. At the time we were truly miserable. There was joy in waking the campers for a special surprise morning convocation and celebration breakfast. There was true mystery in the sharp and biting cold.

I stood outside today waiting for Sophie with too few clothes on for the weather. My skin drew up and I could feel the cold slipping into my fingers and my toes rendering then paralyzed. I became suspended outside of time. I could feel the steel strings of my mandolin, their sharp tension on the pads of my fingers leaving imprints of the strings. The pungent smell of wet fall leaves permeated the frozen air. It would be warm again in a few hours but that cold moment in time and all of those in its stream, stood still.

Four-hundred and twenty five days we will be away on our sojourn from home to ash to home again. I wonder if time will be suspended when we finally pass through the door to make the new house our home. Will the old house cross the four-hundred and twenty five days bearing the moments gathered in our 4,680 days lived on that spot on this earth? Will the wood from one join the wood from the other creating a bridge in time? I think it will. I think we need it to. I think, like old friendships, time is of no matter. Relationships live outside of time. Our relationship to our place on this earth and the two houses that span our fire foster us in a mythical time that is stronger than days.

field overlooking farming valley in morning fog