The mind of a teenage boy is, I am discovering, a fearful and wonderful thing. Beautiful, strange, unpredictable, irrational, surprisingly generous, unspeakably kind, maddening… All within a few hours, sometimes. One particular day, I bought my son new strings for his guitars as a few of the old ones had snapped. He came home from a youth event at 10:00 convinced that now was the time to re-string his guitars and not go to bed. His father disagreed and the stage was set for a rather unpleasant end to the day.
But the sun is in the habit of rising anew each day, full of promise and possibility.
We woke up the next morning and made our way into a gradual, wordless peace. We spent some time stringing his guitars. As we worked, we talked about card tricks and school, we laughed, we listened to music. After the guitars were strung and tuned, I sat and listened to him play. It was good. Very good.
Eventually I drifted off to the kitchen to wash some dishes. As I worked, I thought and I prayed. I found myself saying thank you for the gifts of reconciliation and new beginnings. But a funny phrase made its way across my lips, as I thought and I prayed. I said, Thank you… for now.
Why did I do that? Why the addition of those two words: for now? Was I mentally bracing myself for the inevitability of more unpleasant scenes in a future full of teenagers? Was I reminding God of past difficulties? Was my qualified “thank you” a kind of implicit indictment on God’s mixed recent performance? What, exactly, was I doing as I stood there, my hands plunged in soapy dishwater, the crunch of distortion guitars crashing across the membranes of my eardrums?
Thank you… for now.
On one level, I suspect that this was and is an expression of a kind of guarded, conditional, grudging gratitude. A way of saying, I appreciate this moment, this space, but I know that there are things coming for which I will not be thankful at all. So thank you… until I don’t feel like thanking you any more. Until another bad thing happens. Until the good times give way to the miserable times. Until my laughing turns to mourning. Until the sun is shrouded by darkness and the warmth and greenery of spring turn a frigid brown or a wintry white. Until the devastating test result or the rejection letter. Or, at least, thank you until my gratitude looks different, until it is tinged by shades of lament and protest. Until my “thank you,” if it comes at all, will come through clenched teeth and tear-stained eyes. Thank you… for now.
But I think there’s another way to think of this phrase, too. Thank you. For now. For right now. For this particular moment. For this precious sliver in time when there is harmony, wholeness, love. For this moment, when we understand the truth that we are gifts to one another and not burdens. For this moment when goodness and hope and understanding sing louder and truer than indifference and despair. For this time when laughter and goofy jokes replace sarcastic words and angrily closed doors. For “I’m sorry’s” and “I love you’s.” For grinding guitar riffs that careen through the house. For heavy metal music.
For whatever now might contain and for whatever now might give way to in the future.
For gardens and for soccer. For good food and for friends. For flowers and for rain. For springtime and for motorcycle rides. For good books and for noise cancelling headphones. For unwritten sermons. For board games and for clean bedrooms. For the smell of cut grass and for good wine. For worship and for freedom. For forgiveness and for salvation. For justice and for peace. For foretastes of the kingdom, however fleeting. For the will of God being done on earth as in heaven. Even for a moment.
Thank you… for now.
For now. Thank you.