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‘To practice being people it may take a lifetime to become…’

Good Morning. As the buses trundle by and passing pedestrians look on quizzically, tomorrow morning I’ll join a hundred others in the garden of our parish church.

Slightly self-consciously we’ll wave palm crosses in the air and sing a hymn. Then, with relief, we’ll follow the choir through the old oak doors and into church.

Palm Sunday recalls the crowds waving branches when Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, promising another kind of world. If we could ask him, I guess he’d say we’re still waiting.

Holy Week, for Christians culminates in Easter Sunday when Lent is up, and some of us can have a drink again. ‘Hallellujah’, to use the technical term.

But the faithful are no longer guaranteed a free run in owning certain days of certain weeks – everybody wants a piece of the action. The week ahead includes World Poetry Day – Monday – World Water Day – Wednesday – and, even, on Good Friday, International Waffle Day.

Every day is World Something-Or-Other Day, branded by marketing agencies to sell products – by campaigners to boost good causes. The festivals of faith, though, are more joined up and integrated, suggesting another route through a life, a way to practice faith – not just speak it.

A family we know, living in a big city, decided to experiment one Lent without a car. Six weeks on they’d adopted a new mindset, and have never owned a car since.

A journalist friend is spending this Lent, intentionally trying to get on with a colleague – someone who really winds her up. Her Lent isn’t a 40-day detox, but a personal transformation. It might take her as long as a life.

Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Easter? Can this alternative calendar of faith be an intimation of another kind of living, a way of embedding new habits in search of a good life?
This calendar doesn’t remind you of appointments and deadlines but of the person you want to be, the world you want to live in. It’s not about seven days a week or seventy years of a life but about everyone – in all of time.

Its seasons paint a bigger picture. As big as the one imagined by The Long Now Foundation in the US, the people behind something called ‘The 10,000-Year Clock’.

This clock will tick just once a year. In place of an hour hand, it will have a century hand. Its supporters believe in the long-term, that life is not about faster and cheaper but slower and deeper.

Their notion of ‘the long now’ rings true in the alternative calendar of faith, where people recite an ancient creed which ‘looks for the world to come’.

It asks us to become long-sighted. To practice being people it may take a lifetime to become. To plan for a present we may never experience. To long for a world we may have left… before it has even arrived.’

(Thought For The Day, BBC Radio 4, Saturday March 19th, 2016)