Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Thoughts on time

This fall, like every fall, time has a way of standing up and demanding to be noticed.

One reason this happens every fall is my affinity for Notre Dame football. Somehow or another--be it through old film during game coverage or YouTube clips posted to Facebook--I find myself watching clips of the Irish throughout history. Notre Dame is one of those places for me that seems to defy time and therefore make you more aware of it. I remember walking across campus on foggy nights (or early mornings!) and having the sense that I might get where I was going and somehow find the place 50 or 100 years before. History seemed to hang about the place thicker than the fog, in just that sort of way.

Now, I find myself on a college campus again, this time as a professor. Today was the first day of my fifth year of classes. That means that, with rare exceptions, all the students who started when I started have graduated. I have seen an entire student body turnover, in a mere four years. On the one hand, that is exactly as it should be. But a college campus is a strange space that way; people walk through for a time and are gone. It's not at all unlike life in the world, actually, except that a generation lasts a mere four years.

Of course, my time in Italy this summer is not far from these thoughts. People are so much less permanent than the space they occupy, the things they build. And something about the fall really gives me the sense of the years flying by, of the transience of this earthly life, and a hope in the "world without end" our prayers promise.