As summer winds down, I am increasingly aware of the importance of not treating time as a commodity. We use all the wrong words concerning time: words like "spending" and "wasting," which imply that it can be traded or swapped.
I see the usefulness of these terms, of course; what better thing is there for which to use metaphor, than this strange current of experience we call time? So, we "take a stitch" in it; we "fritter" it (assumedly by cooking too much); we make it and take it, and all the while it flies and crawls along.
The interesting thing to me is that all these metaphors speak of time as if it were not, like our body, something completely of us. No matter how well or poorly you may think you are using your time, it is a part of your life as much as your ears and toes. It cannot in actual fact be "spent," as you are the only one able to use it--no matter what someone may wish to give you for it, you cannot give them time. If there is only one hour of daylight left to the day, it is beyond our ability to give our hour away, so that another may have two. Many are the souls throughout history that have begged to be able to offer their time to another. Perhaps you have also joined those ranks, at the bedside of a loved one. We would give our bodies, we would give our time; but we cannot. The metaphors we have used all our lives are, in the end, paper tigers.
But the language of offering remains to us, I think. Though we cannot trade on time, energy, or ourselves, we can offer them in service most truly, without any fudging of linguistics. There is no pretending in an offer of service: it speaks what is true, and comes with time, body, and will.
It was actually in a moment of anger, or at least frustration, that Jesus said to his disciples: "The Son of Humanity came not to be served, but to serve--and to give his life, a ransom for many." In the end, of course, the greatest offering was his; and we are its recipients. Time may not be ours to give, but it is God's in the making and giving--and there is something called eternity, or heaven, which is perhaps a way of saying that someday we shall lie outside of time completely.
Even as you read this, time is occurring. It is slowly moving through us even now: like a light breeze, or a watercourse, or like the slow, dependable ongoing of a train. Since your time can therefore become no one else's, use it well. You may wish you could give it for another; instead, honor them. You may wonder why you have been given so much; experience it, and seek within it some lesson or wisdom that only time can teach. You have been made, called, and placed with purpose. Take up your time, and follow.
With forever love,