But we are always optimists when it comes to time. We think there will be time to do things with other people and time to say things to them… “I thought I had more time.”
—A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
No Man is an Island, entire of itself; … Any Man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
— John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions #17
For wisdom is more mobile than any motion;
because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things.
Today we celebrate the Lesser Feast Day of priest and poet John Donne who died on this date in 1631. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Nobel Peace Laureate, began his exile in Dharamsala, India, on March 31 in 1959. This day is also World Backup Day, one of those earnest awareness days that now populate our calendar. Declared by well-meaning information citizens, we are urged to understand the need to preserve and “back up” our personal and professional digital data—a task we postpone because we assume that there will always be more time to make copies of our treasured photos, our important documents and family stories, to name a few. We harbor such optimism in the face of our contrary experience with computers and operating systems!
What does it mean to back up (verb) and to be a backup (noun)? Of course, there is the IT term coined to describe digital archival migration. Traffic and sewage back-ups are most unpleasant. But to back up can also mean to support another person or thing. This assumes action and commitment, not just words. Maybe it’s because we’re on our Lenten journey or maybe it’s my increased awareness of the decades I’ve already clocked on this planet earth, but I am feeling a keen urgency—surely, to join, stand up, protect and bear witness, but also to walk in the woods, make art and make people laugh.
Sustaining God, with each full breath, teach me to treasure my time, to love all who cross my path, to grow wise, and to walk with delight in your creation. Amen.