“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” -Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 4
“I would, but I don’t have time.” I hear this often, usually coming from my own lips. It’s the excuse that first comes to mind when I want to get out of doing something. I’ve been saying it often lately, because my time and my thoughts have been busy with the plans for my daughter’s wedding. Hence the reason it’s been over two months since I’ve updated my blog.
There is nothing quite like witnessing your own child take her wedding vows to get you thinking about time. My husband created a beautiful slide show, which was presented for viewing at the rehearsal dinner and the wedding reception. As I watched each snapshot in time, from Laura’s birth to her falling in love with Taylor, I was filled with a plethora of emotions and a surge of burning questions. “Wasn’t it just yesterday when she learned to sing the alphabet, ride a bicycle, and swing a baseball bat?” Could thousands of bedtime stories and goodnight kisses truly have passed by so quickly?” “Has it really been years since she packed her bags to head off to college when it so intensely feels like only months ago?” “Where did the time go and did I give her enough of my time?”
Several years ago I attended a “Time Management” workshop. The facilitator began his lecture with this insight: Time cannot be managed. Time progresses at a steady and unwavering pace. There is no way to stop this progression. One cannot “make” more time nor can one “save” time. A minute is here for a mere 60 seconds. Then, all of us — every tree, every insect, every animal, every blade of grass and all of humanity — moves on to the next minute, which lasts the same number of seconds as the previous one and the same number of each of the billions of moments already succumbed into history.
No, we cannot manage time. We can only manage ourselves within the gift of the alloted and limited time we have here on Earth. I remember this speaker drawing a big evergreen tree on the easel and, as best as I can recall, he said:
“Think of yourself as this tree. The trunk is your core where your energy is produced and where your life goals reside. The branches reach up and out to take in the sun’s rays to nourish its beautiful pine needles, as you use your limbs to reach out to others and share your special gifts with the world. In the process of meeting its own goals, the tree expels oxygen to nourish animals who in return expel carbon dioxide to help sustain the tree.” (i.e. Luke 6:38) When you work toward your goals, you need others to give back to you in their unique ways, further nourishing your needs. Thus, the cycle of community continues.
In the most memorable part of the lecture, the speaker curtly drew many short lines all around the base of the tree. “These dead pine needles represent all the time you spend on things that neither nourish others or feed your goals.” At that moment, I thought those dead pine needles were representative of times when I took a nap when I should have been getting the ironing done. Now I clearly know that naps are very nourishing while a basket of ironing doesn’t even look half as good as a mound of dead pine needles.
What helps me the most these days is recognizing those dead pine needles are actually emblematic of negative emotions. When I am weighed down with bad feelings about my environment, other people in my life or, worst of all, about myself, I cease to be at my best. I have diminished energy making it very difficult to be creative or to be helpful to others. It’s a very unGodly time, and it’s a poor use of my energy as well as a complete waste of my very precious moments.
There were many special moments at the wedding. I captured them all and placed each one in my personal memory savings bank. Whenever I need to, I can “turn” my bank upside down to shake out those cherished moments. In the way a child admires her shiny new pennies sprawled out on the floor, each and every memory is a treasured keepsake.
As Ted escorted Laura down the aisle, I looked at Taylor’s face. In that instant I knew he loved our daughter as much as we do. As he reached for his bride’s hand, the look on her face was one of confidence. Yes, I’m with the right man, her gaze seemed to say. Those were moments that gave their parents such peace. Our children have become competent adults. They are “husband and wife,” secure in their love and safe in each other’s arms.
In inevitable times of struggles and challenges, I pray Laura and Taylor can always find their way back to those precious wedding day moments. When I was about 12 or 13 years old, I stitched a sampler prayer, and lately it has been ruminating in the recesses
of my mind — “Give me time for patience, and understanding, too, and time to remember thoughtful things to do.”
Laura and Taylor, hold fast to your love. Nourish each other with support, affirmation and admiration. Feed one another’s goals with patience, understanding and thoughtfulness. Most importantly, do not give into negative emotions. It’s a huge waste of time!
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