How Long Is A “Moment?”

TheMomentHorizon2The Easter season is full of joy except it’s never a season but a belief, a hope, a promise. Easter joy is a moment because I believe a moment is the only timed word without a time or limit. Ask anyone how long a moment lasts and they’ll give you that weird look like asking how fish breath.

It’s got to be in the top three of my favorite words. It is timeless but controlled.  Limitless but has an end. It has a specific beginning but you never know the end.

The worst of all “moments” is the nurse’s departing comment, “The doctor will be with you in a moment.” “Oh good,” I say to myself as that good feeling melts into wondering if he’s reading a medical journal to hone up on my medical procedure. I’ve already read the Pain Barometer poster and the other poster of what a wonderful hospital this is and that cheesy, tranquil picture I’d never hang in my home. I’ve seen the stuff that he’s about to use on me but refuse to examine it for fear of knowing too much.

So, what’s left while lying on my back, half naked and staring up at the ceiling tiles and refusing to count them for fear of being labeled obsessive compulsive. How many moments have passed since I was told it would only be one of them by the kind nurse who is now telling the next victim (I mean “patient”) that “it’ll be a moment before the doctor arrives.”

Ceiling tiles provide a wonderful opportunity to examine my life. I wonder now if the spinach my mother encouraged but I ignored could have avoided this visit. “When did this all begin,” I ponder to myself since that word moment now becomes plural. Lying there, I become the waiting-for-the-doctor in diagnosing my own problem. “I looked this up,” I say to myself after reading one online article instead of the six extra years after college that the waiting-for-doctor has invested.

My moment feels like forever when forever is something in an unknown future. A moment with a good friend feels like one second while wishing for a second or third moment more. A moment playing with a six-year old lives eternally in your mind even when he asks for the car keys at seventeen.  The moment a 65 year marriage ends is one that continues counting for the rest of her life.

You can elude, avoid or put off whatever you like and you can also savor, never forget and hold deeply and tightly within yourself that once fleeting but eternal yet temporal word, “moment.”

My dad, self-employed, cleverly put a sign on his door at lunchtime, “Back in moment.”  He had nice, long lunches.

The doctor enters the room and says, “I bet you’d rather be 100 places other than here right now.”  I respond, “I bet you say that to every patient.” He replies, “Yeah.” Afterwards, he leaves the room by saying, “Your day can only get better now, and yes I say that one every time too.”

I’m okay, but I had a moment with those ceiling tiles. If I died St. Peter would ask me, “Did you see the light?” I’d say, “No, I saw ceiling tiles and they weren’t all straight!” I saw my life’s recollections about my life, my extensive medical experience (one or two articles), my regrets (few, but still!) and happiness’s (more moments than there are moments) and my half-clothed body waiting for the moment when this moment would finally end.

What is Easter joy and how long does it last? Please give me a moment to think about that one. Thank you.



About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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