I began to write this in my notebook with the line “When I was young, every variation from linear progressive time was a nuisance.” And as soon as I wrote it, I realized it wasn’t true.

To be young is to live an entire life in the grooves of cyclic time. Life is summers at Benbrook Lake, Thanksgiving, Christmas. The annual trip up to Dalhart which smells of horses. Cartoons on Saturday morning. The funny pages on Sunday afternoon. The favorite TV show Friday at 4.

It’s the opposite. The happiness of our youth is the happiness of cyclic time, a life of recurring holidays and the anticipation of holidays. It is in middle age that we are lured into the trap of linear time. We fall into the world of ambitions and retirement plans and projects at work. And we discover happiness in the reclamation of the cycles, or we go mad, chasing younger women, sportier cars, and doubling down on foregone ambitions during our midlife crisis. Reciting desperately all the while that death chant of linear time: You Only Live Once.

This may be why children, for all their burden and trouble, bring happiness, or can bring happiness, because their lives pull us back, just a little, into cyclic time. How strange that youth is the most progressive part of our lives and that it is also cyclic? To adults it looks progressive, but for the child, the closest analogy is treading water.

It would be a disaster to home school and fail to retain summer break.

Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving was made permanent by Lincoln in the midst of the Civil War, if Twitter can be believed. Everything in America is new, or at least newer than it appears. Yet, Thanksgiving feels eternal, even sempiternal.

The Christian vision of time, of course, at its most fundamental, is teleological. There will be an end of the age, and an end of time, when everything has culminated. But, the Church awaits that end in cyclic time, the birth and suffering and death and resurrection of Christ repeated and repeated and repeated in the hope and expectation that, with enough lathering, we will put on Christ.

How will Heaven be? Eternal progression or eternal cycles or a sempiternal present? I’ve always heard it described that latter way, but that’s not the model we are really given. We are given cyclic time as our model of Heaven.

And it may be that in our Father’s house, there are many holidays.

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25 November 2021