Another day in the forty of Lent (2016), and another photo from the thousands I’ve taken since childhood. This one is the city clock in Rouen, France.

Quite naturally, looking at such a clock, any clock, time comes to mind.

There are so many ways to go with this topic! But I don’t have time to cover them all. In fact, I didn’t even have time to write this daily reflection this morning; thus I write in midafternoon,DSC02568.JPG working a bit late.

There  was a time –  for example when this clock was crafted in the fourteenth century (the movement dates to 1389 and the current façade to 1529) – that there was only one clock in town, mounted high above so that everyone could keep track of time. When the church I served in upstate New York was built (c. 1850), its steeple held the town clock, and for generations, the town paid the church a modest rent for its upkeep. These days, public clocks still exist, of course, but the newer ones are digital and flash the temperature as well. No, not as wondrous as the one pictured here.

When I was growing up, everyone wore wristwatches. Dad had his Benrus from his Army days, Mom her little Bulova, and I my Hopalong Cassidy watch. I rarely remembered to wind it, so as a timepiece is wasn’t very reliable, but as a kid, I didn’t have to worry about time much anyway. Mom was the alarm clock, the school bells marked the hours, and Dad announced bedtime. Hopalong Cassidy just looked cool to my second grade mind.

To paraphrase 1 Corinthians 13, when I became a (young) man, I put an end to childish timekeeping, having lost the cowboy watch, and now winding a Timex every morning because time had become more important, and I had to know where the hours would find me. School, first job, activities with friends, meals. And when high school was over, a well-to-do cousin of my Dad’s gave $100 to each family member who was graduating so we could buy a “good” watch. I bought a Gruen. (More than 50 years later, it still keeps nearly perfect time….if I keep it wound.)

It’s said that people today don’t bother with watches. Their smartphones are their timepieces. Like old pocket watches, they are pulled out and glanced at when one needs to know the time. No winding.

It’s time now to make a connection with Lent. Lent is a time-limited season of forty 24-hour time periods. A good Lenten practice might be to consider the way we spend/use/waste/value the time we have. How might we carve out a bit more time for others? Or, for ourselves? For meeting some need or being present with someone who craves companionship. For “devotional time,” or gathering in community for worship or study, that is, making time for the God who gives us the time of our lives.

I must confess that I have never managed my time very well. As a procrastinator, as one whose use of time is often prodigal, as one who barely makes deadlines, I’m the last one who should give advice about time. Thus, I like what Thomas Moore said of time: It does no good to think moralistically about how much time we waste. Wasted time is usually good soul time.” Maybe that redeems the time I have lost.

I have always liked the song by Chicago, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” Check the town clock, look on your wrist, or look at that smartphone screen. From nanoseconds to eons, here is the gift of time for us.

Let’s make good use of it; we don’t have forever.

 

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