Fragments of eternity

Sitting in my parents’ living room a few weeks ago, I had what I can only describe as a moment of existential clarity, during which I finally wrapped my head around the concept of time and its passage in a way I never had before.

We’re always in the midst of history — each moment of now providing a brief, tangible link between our past and our future, tying us to all that came before and all that will come after — but I’m seldom conscious of that while I’m scurrying through the hassles and adventures at hand. (This may or may not explain how I managed to find two decades of my life in a pack of vintage baseball cards I picked up at a shop in Broken Arrow last fall. I’m not sure I even realized they were missing until I found them, wrapped in wax paper and tucked between a smirking Steve Garvey and a stick of stale bubblegum. But I digress.)

It is perhaps their rarity, then, that makes those moments of awareness so very precious.

I experienced such a moment a few weeks ago, as I was sitting in my parents’ living room with an old friend from high school, her husband, and their two daughters, listening to Daddy tell Carterville stories.

As Dad drew my favorite story to its hilarious conclusion, I was overwhelmed by a sense of deja vu. Had I been here before? I knew it was impossible, but …

I closed my eyes for a second. It was another time, another house, and the casting was different, but yes — I had been in this moment before. I had been in this moment nearly three decades earlier, when I was playing the role of the child rummaging through the toybox, while Grandpa — not Dad — was the raconteur in the recliner, holding court before an amused audience.

This is eternity, I thought, and although that seemed much too simple and understandable to be right, I knew instinctively that it was.

Eternity isn’t some golden thread shining through the vague, indiscernible mists of infinity. Eternity is a grandfather sitting in a recliner in his living room, telling his own father’s old, familiar stories to a daughter who recognizes them as the precious inheritance that illuminates her connection to the vast forever.