I am gratful that at the end of another long day (I was up at 4:30), I can fall back on the wisdom of my earlier writings, not just because it means I don’t have to think up and create an original post, but because I have the pleasure of reading wisdom that I invariably needed to write back then and need to see again now. I found this piece particularly poignant because it feels like a younger self reminding an older self not to totally abandon or lose sight of her dreams. On the other hand, sometimes it’s hard to take a dose of one’s own medicine. Perhaps tonight it’s a little bit of both. Enjoy this post from February 2016.
The Next Forty Days, Day 16–Out of Time
“There never seems to be enough time to do the thing you want to do once you find them…” ~Jim Croce
Somehow today time just got away from me. In fact, if I looked back at the last couple of days I’d have to say the entire weekend got away from me. How does that happen? Today I was trying to squeeze in one more thing before I sat down to work on this evening’s post, and before I knew it, it was after 10:00 p.m. Not the way I wanted to start the week, but there it is. I ran out of time. But Jim Croce is right, there never does seem to be enough time, does there?
We expend a lot of hours in each day scrambling around doing things–before work we’re running around getting ready for work, at work we run around to meetings or sit for hours in front of our computers, or operate machinery, listen to cases, preach, patrol city streets, wait on customers, teach children, and millions of other occupations. We spend eight, nine, 10 hours per day at a minimum before we head into our commute home or rush off to day care, start our second shifts (which for many of us occurs at home), prepare and eat an evening meal, then spend a couple of hours maybe doing something we enjoy or work on home projects. Then it is bedtime. We turn off the lights, go to sleep, and wake up to start all over again.
By the end of the week, we are exhausted, but rather than exhaling on the weekend, we run to soccer practices and dance rehearsals, we go to our part time second job, do yard work, laundry, and a hundred other things that we’re too busy or exhausted to do during the week. This leaves us on Sunday evening, prepping for work on Monday–ironing clothes, assembling materials for lunches for the week, etc. And before we know it, it’s 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. and past our bedtime. (Perhaps I am simply projecting with all of this, but I don’t think so.) Maybe it’s time to think about changing the routine.
Today two different friends in two completely separate conversations each talked about wanting to change some things up in their routines. They wanted to really do much more with their time, that is, spend more time doing the things they care about, spending it with people they care about. “Life is too short,” one of them said. “I need to spend it connecting with the people I love.” Each of them had just come from funerals that deeply affected them. As all of us are aging, it becomes more natural for us to think about our mortality and what we want to do with the time that is left to us.
I imagine that might have been what Jesus felt like as he went about his public ministry, which some estimates put at about three years. Can you imagine the pressure? He had three years to accomplish a lot. In the process of preaching to and teaching the masses, was he thinking in the back of his mind about how limited his time really was? As each week rolled into the next month and the seasons turned over the course of a year, I wonder did he feel a need to pick up the pace. When we in our modern era have a deadline for a project or a news article or something that has to be done, don’t we redouble our efforts, work harder, faster, longer? How much greater would our efforts be if we knew, as Jesus did, that we were running out of time, not to meet our deadline, but were coming to the end of our lives?
It has become almost a cliche to ask the question, “what would you do if you knew you only had three months, six months, one year to live?” But really, what would you do? And if you have an immediate answer, then you also know what you should begin to make time for it right now. If you would spend more time with the people you love–quality time, not simply being in the house at the same time–why don’t you do that now? Start tomorrow. Start writing your novel, memoirs, family history. Take up tennis, painting, skydiving. Travel to each of the continents, learn to sail, take tap dancing lessons. You get the drift.
During these forty days we have opportunity not simply to introspect about the meanings of sacrifice and suffering, death, resurrection, and rebirth, but to take action on all those things. The poet Henry Van Dyke said, “Some people are so afraid to die that they never begin to live.” I am not interested in getting to a point where I am out of time and have left too many things undone, too many words unspoken, too much life unlived. I, like so many of us, need to begin to make serious changes immediately. How about you?