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November 2, 2009
Driving didn't used to make me tired, but that was a while back. Yesterday I climbed the stairs at five in the afternoon after a longish trip and lay down for a little nap, which lengthened gracefully into a good night's sleep. I was assisted in this by the change to standard time, a fine invention which makes us all think we've put in a good day before we actually have.

I'm grateful for this sleight-of-hand when it works in my favor, as it does in the fall, but is it really right? Can we just move time like that? Don't we have to ask Somebody's permission? Apparently not -- nobody more exalted than the government, anyway. God seems willing to let us fool around with it all we want. They lost ten whole days a few centuries back: somebody realized that the count of the Julian calendar was off, and they just struck ten days off the year. You went to bed one Thursday night, and when you awakened Friday morning, it was ten days later. This startling lost fortnight is known as the Gregorian Calendar Reform. Catholic countries adopted it as soon as the pope announced it, of course, but Protestant ones refused to have anything to do with it for almost 300 years, until the dating of Easter under the old system had gotten so far from its relation to the solstice that Easter was in danger of not being in the springtime at all, and they had to get with the program. The Orthodox dragged their feet even longer, waiting until the early years of the twentieth century to get on board.

I suppose the reason God doesn't really care about this is that it's not time we're moving. It's just our measure of time. Calendars and clocks are human inventions, the imposition of a linear framework on something that's little more complicated than just a straight line with an arrow pointing towards forever on one end. We learn time this way: beginnings and endings, one thing after another. History marches forward for us, and we can never go back to where we have been before. For us, time elapses.

And we experience this as tragic. We lose everything we love to the past, and we cannot retrieve any of it. Our beloved ones who die, our own youth, the potential we once had which either did or did not come true: all of it slips away to take its place where we can't get at it. We measure time as one calculatingly takes the measure of an enemy. Always, it is inexorable. Always, we are the ones who come up short.

But God's reality is not ours. The measure of time, its past-present-future arrangement, is an earthly thing, not a heavenly one. God holds all three in simultaneous, stupendous embrace, and it is only stupendous to us because we cannot understand it. The release from the world of matter which comes to all of us is also a release from the world of time. Time is not needed in the larger life, and so they don't have it.

That God holds past, present and future as one means, of course, that we're already in the larger life, before we experience it. Yikes. This bears some sitting and thinking, but it's nothing to panic about. It is good and graceful news. And we've got all the time in the world.

To think a little more about this time thing, you might want to read the chaper "The Also-Life" in my book Yes! We'll Gather at the River. You can get it in the bookstore at or at Amazon, This book also contains chapters about forgiveness and prayer, from which my retreats on those topics are drawn.


Sunday, November 8th, Barbara Crafton will read and sign copies of Jesus Wept, her most recent book, at St Luke's Episcopal Church, 17 Oak Avenue, Metuchen NJ 08840. She will also preach at 8am and 10am that morning.


Monday, November 9th, 6-8 A Cocktail Party in New York for St. James in Florence. Spend a couple of convivial hours with Barbara Crafton in an intimate setting on Park Avenue, and do the American Church in Florence some good while you're at it. Former rector Peter Casparian will also be there, as will Bishop Pierre Whalon, and we will meet and mingle with Mark Dunnam, the brand-new rector of St James. Our beloved Juilliard students will be there to serenade us, and our hostess Anne Herrmann says that she has just had the piano tuned. The donation is $100/person. RSVP to Barbara Crafton via

Wed-Sun, Nov 11-15, Women & Spirituality: A Soulful Journey Among Ourselves
The profound experience of women's spiritual quests are explored in a four part series presented by the Psychotherapy & Spirituality Institute in association with Auburn Seminary, General Theological Seminary & Trinity Church Wall Street.

Part 1 begins at Auburn Seminary and examines how the sense of connectedness that is uniquely feminine supports social practices essential for a just society. Wed, Nov 11 | 6:30pm-8:00pm,Auburn Seminary 3041 Broadway at 121st
Guest Presenter: Rev. Suzan D. Johnson Cook (Dr. Sujay), Founder and Senior Pastor of the Bronx Christian Fellowship Church

Part 2 Fri, Nov 13 | 6:30pm-8:00pm St. Paul's Chapel, Broadway at Fulton Street
Guest Panelists: Amy Julia Becker (author of Penelope Myers), Jeanne Person (Director of the Center for Christian Spirituality), Kathleen Kelley & Sumaiya Malik

Part 3 Retreat day in the city at General Theological Seminary.
Saturday, Nov 14 | 10:00am-3:00pm, Entrance on W. 21st Street bet. Ninth & Tenth Avenues
Faciliator: Westina Matthews, PhD Guest Presenter: Rev. Julia Kristeller (Director of PSI's Muslim-Arab Women's Project & Interfaith Minister)

Part 4 Sunday, Nov 15 | 1:00pm-2:30pm | Trinity Wall Street, 74 Trinity Place | 2nd Floor
Guest Presenter: Barbara Cawthorne Crafton
Come to one part of the series, or come to all. Our speakers will have their books available for purchase and signing.
$45 for full series If purchased separately, Parts 1, 2, 4: $12 each, Part 3 Quiet Day: $20 (includes lunch)
For reservations or more information, please contact Mark D’Alessio at 212-285-0043 x11 or

November 21-22 St.Paul's, Fairfield, CT Youth event and Sunday Visit
"Telling My Story" event for youth Saturday evening for all diocesan youth. On Sunday, Barbara Crafton is preacher at 9:30 and leads an adult forum entitled "The Devil You Know and the Angel You Haven't Met Yet."
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