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Reflection: Time

Time_P5The monastic day is full of starts and stops as we navigate the many elements of this life: we take time to work and to play, time to be alone and to be together, time to study and time to pray. These activities are woven throughout each day, individual threads that make up the whole, the fabric of our days.

When we first arrive at the monastery, it can be hard to imagine that these diverse strands of experience will come together to form a beautiful tapestry. For many of us, our early days at the monastery felt more like a tangle of individual threads. Many of us especially experienced a struggle with time itself: Time seemed to slow to a crawl some days, and on other days it sped past! Despite all our expectations and preparations, it took time – and our intentional cooperation with God and one another – for the threads of this life to begin to come together.

Perhaps you know something of this challenge of bringing the various elements of your life into a harmonious whole. Whether you feel a sense of having too little time for all the demands of life, or whether you feel lonely amidst too much time, God is calling you to connection. God wants us to use our time not just wisely, but sacredly, in order to thrive. Learning to use our time well, as God intended, does require us to be intentional about how we approach our life, with all its diverse components. An important part of that intention is being willing to be changed, by allowing God to select and weave together the various threads of our lives.

Each new season of our lives will require us to adapt. Becoming a monk means laying aside certain tasks or opportunities we had previously enjoyed and picking up others. In the same way, becoming a parent alters what day-to-day life looks like compared to the freedom of being a young adult. A new job might require a new outlook or schedule. Retirement is another phase that brings changes, including a new sense of identity. Each new stage of life closes some doors and opens others. No matter what stage of life we are in, God’s invitation is that we be intentional in how we use our time in order to discover the abundance of life God desires for each of us.

Over the next five weeks, we invite you to join us in reflecting on our use of time, focusing especially on how we might take time to stop, pray, work, play and love. Together we will ponder our use of time, asking God to help us weave together the various threads of our lives into a beautiful tapestry in which each part of our life informs and complements the others, and enlivens the whole.

32 Comments

  1. Ruth West on March 5, 2015 at 02:35

    We never get too old or occupied to do something we enjoy in God’s good timing. I have recently written a little piece of historical fiction called COUSINS IN CALICO, published by Outskirtspress and available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google, Nook, etc. Marketing a book might not be the best way to spend Lent, but I am gaining some direction and experience I have not previously known and cultivating new friendships.
    To God be the glory!
    Ruth Elizabeth West

  2. Victor Conrado on February 23, 2015 at 23:20

    Looking forward to this journey together. I want to take the TIME to live and be present with you. Thanks for the invitation.

  3. Virginia Brooks on February 21, 2015 at 21:49

    This series has already brought a new awareness into my life, a better sense of how precious every moment is, and a desire to make the most of it, not in the hurly-burly way that I have, but with more intention and a focus on what I need rather than what I want. I am at a point in my life when I am contemplating retiring, and I think this series will help me approach this next stage more wisely and more sanely. I am also finding that the daily connection with this series is causing me to make more room for God in my day. Thank you, Brothers of the Society of St. John, for sharing your time and your wisdom with us.

  4. Christina on February 20, 2015 at 13:55

    To all the Responders:
    Thank you for all your wonderful thoughts. My time is elastic now. I have to look at the calendar to see what the agenda is for the day. Of course, I should also REMEMBER TO LOOK AT THE CALENDAR. Whatever else I do not remember, however, I seldom fail to start my day with the SSJE brothers’ Words. They are the mainstay in my greeting of another great day. 24 hours – all that time for Blessings. Christina

  5. Linda Wilson on February 20, 2015 at 00:36

    I am looking forward to the Lenten season and what I will learn and how to move beyond the grief of my husband’s death and being alone.

  6. DOK Girl on February 19, 2015 at 17:02

    The days are long, the years are short…cherish them.

  7. Robert Miiller on February 19, 2015 at 07:58

    Ive found time to be elastic..shrinking and expanding as the years have passed. It is now precious in later life…not to be spent without care.

  8. Br. Lorenzo Thomas OSL on February 18, 2015 at 19:44

    Within the past few weeks I’ve noticed that I have been trying to spend my time as quickly as possible. When I get to my tent-making job it’s almost as if I try to “burn” or “kill” time as much as possible. The midwinter always seems to become a time that I want to escape. I’m hoping that by participating in this Lenten devotional that I will be able to experience the holiness of the time that I am given and being living in the moment again.

  9. Sue K. on February 18, 2015 at 15:59

    I am looking forward to exploring this concept and gift of time. Having just recently retired, I am now slowing my life down to the “speed of my own soul”. In reflecting on the question of my relationship with time, I see two answers. The first leads me to think that clock time is an artificial construct that we live and function within to create some sense of order in society. And yes, to use the gift wisely, we need to plan, and be conscious of the gift. The second thought I had is that there is no time, only the present moment and being. And we live between both “worlds” of ” time” and “no time” (only the present moment. The challenge seems to be how to do both well.

  10. jane goldring on February 18, 2015 at 15:38

    I will try and get through this lenton series. it came at just the right time for me. jane

  11. Karen Fast on February 18, 2015 at 14:02

    Having recently retired and then going through 11 weeks of illness, I need to structure my time anew and look forward to what looks to be wise guidance.

  12. pat taylor on February 18, 2015 at 12:20

    Now that I am old I spend time watching birds eat. It is not time wasted but time stretched and enjoyed.

  13. Tracy on February 18, 2015 at 08:56

    Dear Br. Geoffrey, a friend of mine sent me this link of your Lenten study on time and I can honestly say I already feel blessed by it. Each word that I have read has touched a core in me that I’ve been needing to be awakened … Thank you for your precious time in putting this study together and sharing it!

  14. Michael on February 17, 2015 at 16:01

    Fascinating. I am so looking forward to this series mainly because it speaks to me intrinsically instead of extrinsically. I remember Paul Westermeyer speaking about this dialectic when referring to the way a community constructs its song. Never thought to apply this to my daily spiritual path-looking within for a re-ordering as opposed to some collection of external structures and processes “laying on” another layer of veneer creating even more of a barrier between the self and God.

  15. Richard on February 16, 2015 at 00:26

    I got goose bumps just reading this introduction as I am starting to notice God intervening in my life before I was a Christian as I also felt it was important to control my time. Although I thought of all the worldly reasons why, I never realized it was really for God’s purpose.

  16. Bes Spangler on February 14, 2015 at 12:26

    Offering this Lenten series on Time will complement/compliment the Lenten series offered by my parish church as well as my private observances.
    I am thankful that you extend the community so widely.
    Thank you

  17. Susan Dredge on February 14, 2015 at 10:54

    I am looking forward to taking time for this journey. Even in retirement, sometimes time and commitments just erode quiet time away. I am hoping to get focus and some structure back to make the most of my time.

  18. Ralph on February 13, 2015 at 22:01

    Funny, this thing about time moving faster as you get older. I was recently considering the two week challenge I had set for myself. Two weeks appeared at first to be a significant sacrifice. Then I did the math. Two weeks at my age represents less than 0.0006 ( 0.06%) of my entire life to date….then I thought back to when I was just turning 18. The same two weeks spent would have represented 0.002 (0.2%). At the age of twelve…. 0.003 (0.3%). Maybe if I was four (0.009) their might be a true sacrifice of time…a mere 1%. It made me realize that when we think about two weeks today it means something a little different to all of us.

  19. Bob Jenks on February 13, 2015 at 17:10

    Yes, I am looking forward to this series! Lent has always drawn me closer to our Lord so I am thankful for this season. Bob

  20. Sue Anonymous on February 11, 2015 at 16:49

    I look forward to this Lenten series. As a person in recovery, I often contemplate the nature of time. It’s really all there is…me, you, life itself in some ways. Time is existence. What will I do with it? What will I make of my time?

    In recovery I hear the acronyms Things I Must Endure and Things I Must Earn. But T.I.M.E. is so much more than that for it is That I Might Experience. Who besides I decides if my experience is positive or negative? For instance, I live in New England where we’ve had snow storm after snow storm. I hear folks complaining about the weather. We have another storm on the way, by the way. I’ve decided to accept the weather and have come to enjoy it. I find joy in the gentle nature of the snowfall and the amazing way that God takes care of this planet of ours, preparing for the spring plantings even as the cold grey skies of winter prevail. There is a great serenity for me in the interruption of daily hustle and bustle of this world by something so insurmountable as the gentle yet formidable snowflake. I pray. I meditate. I cook and bake and clean and spend time at home that I might not otherwise spend doing those “nesting” sort of activities because the rhythm that I’ve come to see as natural has been interrupted by the most timely and the most natural of all events. Time changes. It is no longer the foe that I am fighting to overcome but rather the companion that I live with and embrace.

    Yes, tell me more. I am hungry…

    • Sarah in Maine on February 14, 2015 at 02:12

      I also live in New England, and experience the same appreciation for the weather. Although sometimes I feel hemmed in my these frequent storms, I also look forward to the “nesting” activities of baking and cleaning, knitting and puzzles and contemplation, and lots of reading with my three kids that I would not make time for at other times of the year. I enjoy my solitude, my “hibernation”.
      I find that I also need to remind myself to “Have Fun in Nature” at this time of year, to actually go outside and be present in it, to take the time to put on the skis or snowshoes and go exploring and be watchful, listening, present, bringing myself out of my thoughts and into the Now of the outside world. I like “to soak it in”, as in, consuming it like a delicious nectar. But also “to soak in it”, as if I were to surround myself in the natural world as if I were in a soothing and exhilarating bath, the water and the aromas touching and comforting me from the outside in.
      I’m looking forward to this precious time of year.

    • peppermint on February 19, 2015 at 08:28

      We have not had your severe storms but today a wind chill of 25 below so staying in sounds appealing. “Doing nothing” with the Lord is such a special way to be open to the Spirit. As the freezing temperatures break open the soil for spring planting and growth, I trust these frigid days offer TIME to break us open to new depth of the Spirit.

  21. Lisa on February 10, 2015 at 10:12

    It is so true how Time marches at so many different speeds. For many years, Time seemed like a relentless force that crushed everything in its way (especially during the childrearing years). I had to submit, hurry a lot and stay awake. It felt as if Time could run out at any moment.

    Now, I literally have more time, and its pace is more consistent. I don’t have to be prepared to shift from extreme slow to emergency fast with no notice, so I can relax. I respect Time by scheduling meditations/etc. and pray Time will expand for me. And occasionally, stop for me, leaving nothing but Presence.

    • Shawn on February 12, 2015 at 09:27

      This is so beautifully said. I too, find that I now have more time for myself, as my children are leaving home and/or requiring less of my constant time and attention. And yet I wonder if I am not using this time as well as I should be. I think I have been seeing it as my reward, my payback, if you will, for all the years (all the time) I gave to the care and rearing of my children. I have become more selfish about time over the last few years, I think. I look forward to this series as a help in once again exploring how I view the time that God has given me.

  22. Willeva Weems on February 7, 2015 at 05:02

    What a wonderful resource for Lent.

  23. Evie Blettis on February 6, 2015 at 10:12

    I look forward to the Lenten Series each year. You all such a blessing in my Christian journey. Evie

  24. Raymond Bigrow on February 5, 2015 at 19:24

    Looking forward to this experience.

  25. Christopher Engle Barnhart on February 2, 2015 at 23:19

    I look forward to this journey.

  26. Nola-Susan Crewe on February 2, 2015 at 16:19

    What I find fascinating about time is how it speeds up the older you get. My grandchildren can’t believe they have to have three more sleeps before a party: and I can’t believe it isn’t just yesterday that we were at the Ex. Of course, time REALLY speeds up on a Saturday when the sermon won’t come together . . .

    • Joan on March 6, 2015 at 10:52

      This is so true – I am constantly shocked when there is news of some anniversary or such celebrating something that happened 40 – 50 years ago – to me it seems hardly any time at all and I remember the details so well! Thankfully I also remember yesterday too!

  27. julie on January 29, 2015 at 20:58

    I look forward to the five weeks.

    • Cindy Taplin on February 1, 2015 at 14:43

      This will encourage me to take the time to reflect on how better to use my time and not wast it as much as I do.

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