Do you ever wonder, as I do with some regularity, where the time has gone? It seems like summer just began, and yet within weeks, children will be back in school. Young adults will be off to college by mid or late August. Our newsletter is full of announcements about the beginning of a new year for our church programs: youth group activities will begin; Chancel Choir reconvenes; and of course, there is PresFest … our annual street-fair picnic that is like a kick-off for fall.
It is not only the summer season that passes all too quickly. Years seem to fly by as well. It is startling for me to realize that Fred and I moved here to Louisville in August of 2011. As of September 1, I will have served as your pastor for four years. Where has this time gone?
One of the psalms prays, “Teach us, O Lord, to number our days.” There is a line from a prayer that talks about time being “made precious by its passing.” But often is seems that we lose count of our days, and we forget that each and every one of them is a precious gift. In order to help me remember how precious each day is, I often begin my prayers by thanking God for this particular day – a day that has never been before and never will be again. When we recognize that each day is a gift that we receive from God, we stand before the day and before God in gratitude and with hope as we look forward to whatever signs of God’s presence will come to us during the day.
I’m sure I don’t need to point out, however, that approaching time in this way is much easier said than done. Many of us are overcome with multiple demands – work, families, others for whom we care, volunteer work. We find ourselves tethered to calendars; we have to sync our calendars with others to make sure things don’t fall through the cracks. Most days, if not every day, the list of things to do is much longer than the time available. Sometimes, just thinking about what lies ahead, we are exhausted before the day even begins.
What to do? One thing I do is begin each day with some time of quiet reflection. Over the years, I’ve done a variety of things: I’ve divided up the book of psalms and read it through in a month; I’ve read one chapter a day of a gospel beginning with Matthew until I finished John; I’ve used daily devotional books, like A Year with Thomas Merton. If the beginning of the day is too hectic, perhaps getting to work a little early would allow you a few moments of quiet reflection. There is even an app that you could download to your computer, phone or tablet called “Daily Prayer” that is produced by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) using our Book of Common Worship.
Another practice that is really helpful is trying to reduce the amount of multi-tasking we do. For example, when you are driving, you might turn off the radio and resist the temptation to check email when stopped at one of Louisville’s really long traffic signals. Take that quiet moment to look around – see the colors, look at the sky, observe people and remember that each of them is as beloved by God as you are. And give thanks … for this is the day that the Lord has made for you to rejoice and be glad in it.
Cynthia Campbell, Pastor