Monday, October 04, 2004

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping ...

... into the future.

Ten points if you remember that line from "Fly Like an Eagle" by the Steve Miller Band. It's a repetitive little ditty, so that line has a way of being on the permanent sound-track in my head when I'm wondering where the day went, as I do most days.

My relationship with time is a deep and a troubled thing. I love it in its abundance; I hate it in its paucity. I love it when I think I'm free; I hate it when I know I'm enslaved. My husband noted once that I covet time like other people covet things. I wish he'd have been wrong, but he's not. I belong to the sad little group that Uncle Screwtape advised Wormwood about, those who consider time as somehow belonging to them and any unexpected loss of time as the moral equivalent of robbery.

So I'm always looking for little helps like the half-page commentary in the latest "Touchstone's" Quodlibet section entitled, "The Redemption of Wasted Time". The author S. M. Hutchens makes a brief and elegant case for the fallacy of the entire human notion of wasted time for two reasons:
The first is that, ultimately, the meaning of our existence is not a matter of our will, nor is its direction in our control except in a qualified way ... Who knows but that from [God's] point of view, the principal reaon for our creation may have been to speak a single word in the place He wanted it spoken, a word that we may have forgotten in a moment, but for which we were born?

In other words, how do I know whether time is wasted or not when I can't know as God does what I was created to do? If I'm cursing one of the many intervals in daily life when I can't move as fast as I want or get to the next place as soon as I want, it's worth considering how little my estimation of where I "should" be is worth.

Sobering stuff. And Hutchens' second reason is even more profound:
The second and even greater reason that it is difficult, if not impossible, for us to be judges of wasted time in any ultimate sense is because of the redemption of time by its Lord, the way in which all that comes to pass is involved in the apokatastasis pantoon where even evil becomes subject to His perfect will through the death, resurrection and glorification of the Son of God, in whom, by whom, and for whom all things were created, most particularly those who love Him and in whom is found the desire to do His will.

He gives an example of a farmer making provisions for livestock, noting that even though the cow will die and the farmer will die, God will remember that little act of good stewardship.
'I go to prepare a place for you ...' means exactly this. The Carpenter, who is building even now, does not do it with nothing, but with the substantial proceeds of redeemed time. It is He who determines its worth, and He alone who is competent to determine what time has been well or ill spent.


Blogger Hannah said...

Grace, I don't have anything eloquent to say about your post. I do want you to know that it really touched me, especially this: "Who knows but that from [God's] point of view, the principal reason for our creation may have been to speak a single word in the place He wanted it spoken, a word that we may have forgotten in a moment, but for which we were born?" Very humbling and beautiful. Thanks.

October 5, 2004 at 12:15 PM  
Blogger Grace said...

I disagree! Telling me it touched you is as eloquent as it needs to be. Besides, note that I quote others and leave the beautiful phrasing to those who do it for a living(!)

Hey, happy birthday, BTW! (In case you hadn't come across it yet, I told a story on you as a kid in the comments of Erica's post about babysitting.)


October 5, 2004 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger Grace said...

Shoot, I was so busy acknowledging the compliment I forgot a more important point. The main point that you mention -- that God's will for your life may come down to a word you speak that means nothing to you at the time -- stood out to me, too.

In reflecting on some biographies of famous people, I noticed a couple years ago that some of them came whisker-close to being unknown. What about Vivaldi (to name just one) who probably would've realistically supposed when he died that no one would play his music 20 years later? Or Anne Francis, who would've had no way of knowing that her diary would be a best-seller all over the world. Or my patron saint, Mary of Egypt, who would've died completely unknown if not for one monk who talked to her two times.

None of this is meant to make a lot out of worldly fame, of course. It just struck me as an indictment against the very human feeling that you haven't *done* anything with your life. Impossible really to know, when you get right down to it. All the more reason, I suppose, that blessed people invest little tasks with great meaning.

October 5, 2004 at 12:53 PM  

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