They made me keeper of the vineyard, but my own vineyard I did not keep. – Song of Solomon 1:6
It’s the middle of the night on Monday morning, “o’dark-thirty” some people call it. The birds are up, the crickets are up, the frogs are up, I am up – those higher on the life chain, and those with greater intelligence, are still asleep. The birds, crickets, and frogs are just doing what comes naturally. I’m committing the unnatural – trying to cram twenty-six hours of activity into a twenty-four hour day.
In this quite, still, pondering time, I only want to know one thing: “When did I lose control? When did it happen that I drove home at 10:30 to bright stars and cool air only to realize that late night drive had become the norm? When did it happen that the store owner who opens at 6:30 each day to provide my breakfast, coffee, and doughnut began calling me by my name, asking about my family, and critiquing the role of the church in global affairs? When did it happen that we celebrated Easter, or was Christmas, or some other significant holiday?” I remember exchanging gifts, so it must have been Thanksgiving; we were all too busy to get together for Christmas. And Easter went by in a pink and yellow blur. I think I’ve lost control of my own time.
And health. I used to be fairly health conscious. I can remember sleeping soundly, sunning regularly, and even reading labels for cholesterol content. Yesterday’s fare – besides the customary coffee, doughnut, and more coffee – only included a hasty lunch during another meeting; and although I can’t remember what kind of sandwich I ate, I do remember saying to the waiter, “I’ll have what she’s having,“ before my companion had even ordered. I guess it’s no wonder that time and gravity are winning in my contest to maintain the appearance of good health.
And finances, I feel like a piece of bread in a pool of minnows. I’m being nibbled with nothingness. I’ve lost control. My house has become a storage bin. My office has become a junk room. Last week’s mail is still on my desk, along with letters I have to write yesterday, outlines for classes I never gave, and cups of half-empty coffee now grown furry.
Control, it’s easy to think about controlling the day as the sun comes up. It’s easy to think about making the most of time at the dawn of a new day. It’s easy before the crowd rolls in, the phone begins ringing, and the calendar swells with both the expected and unexpected crises of the day. At this time of the day, one could almost think about setting priorities, maintaining balance, and taking care of self. At this time of day, even long-known hastily buried scriptural guidelines come to mind – images of Jesus in the wilderness, at sea, or in the garden, alone with self and God. Scriptures can be haunting, molding when given time to take hold.
Prayer: My time is your gift, Lord. Help me to be a steward of time, to order my time and not let it order me.