This last Sunday, I took a seat in a church pew towards the back. I had just finished an on-call shift at the hospital. I felt a mix of energy and vulnerability pulsing through me.
My pastor introduced a theologian, talking about how they had attended a conference she hosted not long ago. They showed her image up on the screen. Her face was kind and beautiful. I expected them to quote a nugget of her insight, an encouraging remark. Instead, they shared that she died this last weekend. Rachel Held Evans was 37 years old and had two children. And my heart broke.
I’m sure strands of Rachel’s dreams and wit have been woven into the sermons I hear on Sunday, but I had never been formally introduced to who she is or been formed by her the way I would soon learn she had impacted the lives of so many people on this earth in her lifetime. So I cannot write any sort of tribute here that more fully represents the way she moved through the world. The stories that are already being told are extensive.
Yet something caught me on Sunday when I heard this news. At times, in the face of death, our time feels too damn short. Time, at times, is not enough time.
And in other ways, maybe our life and our work and our breath and our love is exactly enough. Our lives are infinitely precious, blessing these persistent reverberations of time with a transformative eternalness.
Many years ago, a mentor gave me a small illustration that had a Brian Andreas quote. It reads,
“Everything changed the day she figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in her life.”
I don’t know that these words always feel true. Maybe they fall short in the face of tragedy and as we walk with our grief. But for me, they touch something real. With whatever time we do have, it is enough not always in its quantity, but in its existence. Our time can become one of our gifts from this universe, an available language, an instrument, a vocabulary, to tend to the living beings and ideas and passions we encounter and love.
From what little I know of Rachel, it seems her time here was filled with a message of love that challenged, inspired, and made us better. I believe her message will continue to ripple through this world and change peoples’ lives. In this way, her time has undone its own limitations.
In the brevity of this life, may enoughness transcend limits.