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Running on Faith: An In-Between Time

Snow shoes

In a recent article in the New York Times celebrating the twentieth anniversary of The Lord of the Rings film, Elijah Wood (who played Frodo Baggins) reflected on his love of the “in-between” moments during filming. “The seemingly mundane moments, like sitting on top of a washer and dryer getting our hobbit feet taken off because we had to vacate set as it started to snow…and the camaraderie and the daily life we had.” I have to say, Wood’s reminiscences really hit home for me.

I thought of my own experience of the “in-between time” Wood describes at the end of a recent cold, slushy evening run with my running mates as we removed the outer layers of sweaty winter running gear while standing on one foot in my friend’s garage. We took turns trying to pry our shoes off because the laces were frozen, caked with snow and ice. Finally, we were able to fully come out of the cold—walking on bare feet like ice blocks—into a warm basement room to stretch and chat.

I also thought of our students here at STM. Yale has finished its semester and our students are now in that precious time in-between the “already” of having finished those tough final weeks of the semester and the “not yet” of starting again at the end of January. Their lives are full of goodbyes, travel—and, the uncertainty of what next semester will bring in both the form of classes and of Omicron. 

In a homily he gave in 2006, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI referred to Advent as the “in-between time,” that period between the “already” of Christ’s first coming into the world in the Incarnation and the “not yet” of Christ’s coming again in glory. He reflected on the entrance antiphon from the First Sunday of Advent: Proclaim to all the peoples: God our Savior is coming. Pause a moment to reflect: it is not used in the past tense ‘God has come,’ nor in the future, ‘God will come,’ but in the present—‘God comes.’ At a closer look, this is a continuous present, that is, an ever-continuous action: it happened, it is happening now and it will happen again. In whichever moment, ‘God comes.’”

We live in this “in-between” time, the long waiting between the “already” of Christ, the Incarnate One, the Second Divine Person of the Blessed Trinity coming into our broken world and the “not yet” when in a time known only to God, when the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings returns. When all earthly stress, heartache, disappointment, struggle, suffering and tragedy will cease and every tear is wiped away and all is made new.

But for now, we run, we reflect, we connect with our own fellowships of friends and family and we remain steadfast in hope—which is fulfilled in the most beautiful and most surprising of ways. When we least expect it, there is a baby who begins to cry out in the cold Palestinian night: vulnerable, fragile and entirely dependent on the love and care of human beings prepared to receive him.

In the “in-between” time, no matter what, in every circumstance and for all of time, Christ comes. And he’ll be with us very soon. 

Fr. Ryan Lerner, Chaplain

Fr. Ryan Lerner, Chaplain

Fr. Ryan Lerner is Yale's 8th Catholic Chaplain.