In 1000 AD, May 2nd was known as the feast of St. Athanasius. In 1800 AD, the French Revolutionaries had attempted to suppress and destroy the Christian calendar, replacing the old saint’s days with feasts of nature and agriculture. May 2nd was the feast of the wallflower. The French Republican Calendar did not hold in the public imagination, though, and quickly fell out of fashion. In 1900 AD, May 2nd was nothing. May 2nd was a common Wednesday. Today, May 2nd is National Garden Naked Day.
When supernature was no longer thought fit to govern and redeem time, nature took the place of supernature. When nature proved insufficient to the task of redeeming nature, man stewed in nothingness. And after nothingness came the ugly fruit of nothingness: arbitrariness.
National Garden Naked Day. National Paranormal Day (May 3rd). National Compliment Your Mirror Day (July 3rd). National Tapioca Pudding Day (July 15th). National All or Nothing Day (July 26th). In the last decade or so, the calendar has filled with aimless, wanton holidays. My students are freshly amazed every time the news cycle coughs up one of them. “Mr. Gibbs, did you know it’s actually National Talk Like A Pirate Day?” They always say actually because the news itself does not seem actual, but accidental. Teenagers are new to the world of coherence, rationality, intentionality. Whenever National Talk Like A Pirate Day rolls around, they all feel the world a somewhat more charming place. After all, only adults can make it National anything, right?
Our hearts tell us, “It cannot merely be Wednesday. This day must be something other than Wednesday.” Wednesday is simply too remarkable, too ripe with purpose to only be Wednesday. This Wednesday must be the particular gift of some great spiritual Atlas.
Just as no two men may be the same, no two days may be the same. It is not enough that it is Winter. It is not enough that it is Lent. This day of Lent begs for distinction as that child begs for distinction. All days are days, and all men are men. But this man is not that man, and this day is not that day. Say otherwise, but the saying will not hold. Reflexes will get the better of you. Sufficient unto the day is the righteousness thereof, but we require that righteousness have a name.
Man refuses to accept the meaninglessness of time. We know intuitively that time must mean something. The French Revolutionaries couldn’t simply burn those saintly feast days without putting something in their place. The nihilism of 1900, which refused to grant time had transcendent value, could only hold out so long before man instinctively pulled his hand out of the dark fire.
Nature abhors a vacuum, but so does man; space demands redemption, but so does time.