A Question of Time

By Father John Walsh on December 2, 2012

Many years ago I entered a dialogue with the children during a Sunday morning Eucharist.  I asked the children if they could make a sentence with the word time in it.  One little girl blurted out, “time flies.”  I thanked her.  Then another girl, with her hand waving in the air, and somehow to her mother’s premonition and chagrin, said, “My mother kept saying, hurry up or we won’t get to church on time.”
The congregation chuckled.  Then, at the very back of the Church, a young man of about eight put up his hand.  I walked down the length of main aisle and escorted him to the center of the aisle.  I asked him to cup his hands around his mouth so everybody could hear his sentence.  In a booming voice, he said, “We’re wasting time.”  There was uproarious laughter.  The best I could do was to stop, then and there, walk the length of the aisle and return to the sanctuary.   

I have remembered that incident because the question of time recurs over and over.   The greatest reason people cannot become involved is because they say they are too busy, they just don’t have time.  In the hustle and bustle of our North American Western culture we are short on time.  We live life running out of time.  Everyone seems to be rushing through a week of work to find time to rest and relax on the weekend; to find out that weekends are now just as busy as the weeks.   Time has become a precious commodity.  We are scrambling to find a precious moment for ourselves.   The strangest thing is that I have discovered we can stop time.   

Jews pray three times a day, every day. The Muslims are called to pray five times a day, every day. It allows them to stop time from taking over their lives.  Monks in monasteries and Roman Catholic priests pray The Liturgy of the Hours seven times a day.  They too can stop time by leaving the ridiculous pace of life and discovering a better pace of life, better than a rat-race.  Mitch Albom wrote tuesdays with Morrie;  the story of dying man who uses the little time he has left in life to teach a young, former student, the meaning of life.  In subsequent books like have a little faith  --a true story, for one more day, the five people you meet in heaven, there is an underlying theme about making the best use of our time on earth.  His latest book is the time keeper – a novel.   It is about how time affects our relationships.  Father time is named Dor(incidentally it means generation in Hebrew – a very apt name for all generations, past, present,and future, must account for the use of the time they have) and at the death of his wife Alii, (refer to El Al .. to the skyways or perhaps here it means “heavenward”) he invents the way to tell time. In his travels he encounters an elderly married couple and a young couple who meet only once in a flirtatious romantic evening.  The unfolding of lives sometimes enfolds them time-bound,and at other times, releases them from the constraints of time.  The book is an adventure in time and out of time; a learning of the meaning of time.  

Most people can recall and almost recite by heart chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes:  For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.  And while there may be an acceptable juxtaposition of contraries I take full exception of giving time to hate and allowing any time for war.  In our time we have experienced genocides that emanate from hate; we must detest such hate.  In our time, if war is completely eliminated, we can work full-time for peace.  There is no other time than now to use time to do good


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