Time is precious so let’s not ‘kill time’


“What can be killed but never dies?” In case you haven’t guessed, the answer is: “Time.” With another birthday only days away, I look at the number and wonder where has the time gone, which reminds me of another riddle.

“What flies but doesn’t have wings?” By now you’ve probably guessed that the topic for this column is time – a subject that’s always timely.

Days come and go because time never stands still. In a world where digital clocks have replaced clocks bearing a face with hands marking the passing of every second, we can forget time is passing and that every moment is precious. That being the case, why then, would anyone want to kill time?

This was definitely not the case at a birthday celebration I recently attended for a woman who had just turned 90. Hardly intimidated by the number, Frances, the honoree, chatted with guests, danced, and sang along with the piano player.

However, what impressed me most was what happened after the prayer that we said before the meal we were about to enjoy. Her family broke into song, singing “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad!”

This had been the family’s practice for years. With that as a daily mantra, how could anyone fail to realize that time is about more than the ticking of a clock? It’s a way to value what’s really important.

Since God’s timing is always perfect, it came as no surprise that a few days later I came across a video by a nun who shared a practice that her community uses to hold them accountable for the way they spend their time. Using a daily self-examination, they’re able to evaluate whether or not they’re using time in a productive manner. Since learn- ing of it, I’ve tried it and thought it worth passing along to others.

This practice doesn’t mean that we’re to keep busy all day, every day. It simply means that we notice how we spend our day and decide if there are ways that we can make the day more fruitful. The practice involves six easy steps:

1. Place our self in the presence of God and ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

2. Review the day as if it was a video playing out in our mind.

3. Thank God for all the things that happened during the day for which we are grateful.

4. Consider where God was present in the ordinary events and tasks of the day.

5. Consider where I failed to recognize the presence of God during the course of the day.

6. Ask God to help me recognize his presence in the people and events in the course of
the day and resolve with the help of his grace to do better tomorrow.

There’s no need to promise to do better for the rest of our life — just for the next day. Focusing on one day at a time, we are better able to be attentive to the present moment, a practice that has been lauded by saints for centuries. We can hardly go wrong by incorporating the practice into our life. As we look back on the years, we can’t change what took place, but we can learn from it.

Understandably, with the passage of time comes a decline in our energy level, which is a good thing. Doing less allows us to realize that the most important things in life are relationships – relationships with God and with the people we encounter every day.

Much is often said about the greying of the Church. For the most part, those who attend daily Mass are senior citizens. Those who are retired have time to make their relationship with God a priority. But it may also be because with age comes the realization that all things are passing and that God alone can fill the empty space and moments of our life with the peace and joy that can come with letting go.

As the author of the “Cloud of Unknowing” wrote, “So be very careful how you spend your time. There is nothing more precious. In the twinkling of an eye heaven may be won or lost. God shows that time is precious, for he never gives two moments of time side by side, but always in succession.”

That being the case, why would anyone want to kill time? Time is a gift from God, given to us for the purpose of gathering treasures in life as a way to be with God forever in heaven. Mindful of this precious gift, let’s resolve to make every moment of our lives count because we will not pass this way again.

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