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It’s Time

Time is a complex and slippery concept. Philosophers argue about whether there is even such a thing as time. That’s too deep and complex for me, though I do understand that we can experience time in different ways. It’s not as simple and straightforward as it first appears.

We often feel that there is not enough time. We talk about time being precious. We say that time ‘flies by.’ When we’re up against the clock, we often say that we are in a race against time. This way of thinking is present in the Bible. The prophet Zephaniah says: “The great day of the Lord is near and hastening fast.” St. Paul is even more blunt: “Time is short,” he says. Yet, there are occasions when, rather than flying by, we experience time as being a burden. Prisoners talk about “doing time.” If we are bored, we might say that we are ‘killing time.”

Some of us have the amazing experience of feeling that time stood still. These are often profound moments of great significance. There are moments when our life could have gone in a radically different direction. In such moments, we have the feeling of stepping outside the confines of time to see what truly matters. Whitney Houston sang about “one moment in time when I will feel eternity.” This understanding of time is also present in the Bible. The Psalmist says: “A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by.”

What all this shows, I think, is that we can experience time in different ways, and we might even say that, to some extent, we can shape time. I heard a fellow priest recently say that when people came up to her when she was feeling rushed, they said, “Have you got time to talk?” She would often reply by saying something like, “No, not really, I only have five minutes.” Now, if that happens, she replies by saying: “Yes, I have a whole five minutes.”

I invite you to consider your attitude to time this Lent. We might benefit from seeing this six-week period as a gift of time. If we deny ourselves something during Lent, we will be merely counting down the days, longing for it to end. Or we could lean into Lent and ask ourselves – ‘what am I going to do with these six weeks?’ Psychologists say six weeks is long enough to form a new habit. So, let’s aim high this Lent. Giving up chocolate might not be enough. Let’s use this gift of time to make a difference.

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Category: #Communications, #Worship & Formation

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3 replies to “It’s Time

  1. Darryl Peralta | on February 14, 2024

    Thank you for this valuable thought on time and Lent. I just celebrated my 79th birthday and I can tell you that as you get older, questions of time and mortality arise. This is accented as one experiences more physical ailments as we age. For me the salve is serving Jesus and His people, and believing Christ’s promises that the best is yet to come. Service and hope are things I will focus on the Lent. God bless

    Darryl

  2. The Rev. Brian D. Johnson | on February 14, 2024

    What an absolutely beautiful essay by Fr. Hargreaves, very inspired and encourages us to think about the concept of “time” in a new way this Lenten season. Thank you !

  3. Carolyn Richardson | on February 14, 2024

    Thank you, Mark, for this beautiful and “timely” meditation. It caught my eye, so it must’ve been what I needed to read on Ash Wednesday. Blessings!

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