“We’re growing older, realizing we cannot stop the hands of time.”
So said my elder friend in her annual Christmas greeting to my family. I felt the profundity of her proclamation. It’s nothing new; it just hit me harder this go around, struck me in the center of my heart. We’ve all heard it before, maybe even said it a time or two, a comment about our inability to halt the progression of time.
I’m not sure I really want to . . . stop time, but there have been a few occasions when I’ve felt some pain regarding its passage. At the core, I imagine it’s my desire to hold more of it . . . to manage time and to dispense it as I see fit. I find this yearning in others as well. It’s not always obvious, but every now and again, someone lets it slip . . . a word or two of regret that lingers as sadness rather than fond remembrance.
I heard it from my daughter’s lips on Christmas day when she realized that her unwrapping was over. Instead of savoring each gift, she tore into her treasures and could only watch as the rest of us lingered with our piles. She couldn’t stop the clock, and while tucking her in bed that evening, I saw the tears welling in her eyes as hope disappeared into the night with her whisper, “I wish we could do it all over again; I wish tomorrow were Christmas.”
I heard it in myself on Christmas day while listening to the CD my husband made for me of my eldest son’s 1998 cassette rendition of “It’s Carol Time”—song after song of Nick singing a cappella his favorite carols from the hymnal. In 1998, he was nine years old—a boy just discovering his voice via a microphone and a tape player. In 2012, a man now twenty-three, still discovering his voice. And I cried at the passage of time—this brief blip on the radar of my life that came and went by rapidly, almost without notice.
I heard it in my mother’s voice during a phone conversation this afternoon . . . a word or two that led me to believe there’s more to the story than meets the eye. That the passage of time has her, too, wondering about the swiftness of it all. A Christmas come and gone with but a few, brief memories that might easily fade with time.
Three generations of Killian women, all of us thinking on and digging into the depths of what it means to live a life too hastily and to know that no matter our longings, we cannot slow the hands of time. We can only live time as time arrives.
It’s a difficult thing to weigh it all out, especially when emotions run wildly and hearts are easily wounded by realities that cannot be manipulated, only experienced. Perhaps this is why so many of us struggle this time of year. We’re positioned for remembrance, for reflection. We don’t get to manage the calendar. December 25th comes for all of us, whether or not we’re prepared for its arrival. It’s thrust upon us, and we must walk it through.
Yes, we’re fine with remembering the Savior’s birth; his story lived way back then. But what about ours . . . our right now? Christmas also positions us to remember the birth of other things, other seasons in our lives; in doing so, we live the weightiness of the passage of time. It can be a grievous contemplation; accordingly, it shouldn’t be overlooked or underestimated. Instead, it should be given room enough to breathe, thereby allowing our grief a good release, a tilling up of the soil that cradles grief’s roots for the new seeds that God longs to plant therein—a fresh planting of the Lord to supplement the soil of our yesterdays.
If we cannot heartily grieve, then we cannot healthily move forward. We must acknowledge the pain that we feel regarding the passage of time; in doing so, we’re better prepared for the steps that lie ahead. Carrying grief or carrying regret into our tomorrows will limit forward progression. This doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t feel it; it simply means that we should live it as it arrives—recognize it, speak it, and give it the respect its due. This is how we gain better perspective. This is how we live truthfully before God and before his created. This is how we work it out and release some of the heaviness attached to time’s seemingly, increasing cadence.
We are growing older, friend, with each moment we’re allowed. It’s true; we cannot stop the flow of time. We can, however, live our moments authentically, wholly, and wonderfully engaged with the process. I don’t know what this will look like for you in coming days, but for me, it looks like this—a stringing together of a few words and thoughts from time to time that most accurately portray the stirrings of my heart. Perhaps they will stir yours as well, allowing you a moment or two of reflective pause, enabling you to put a few words to your story. If so, then this has been time well spent—sixty minutes of my life that I cannot reclaim, only release forward . . . to you. Do with them what you will; live them as you are able. Live your moments as they come so that you, too, can release them to your history with highest regard and without terrible regret.
And just in case you’re wondering, you mean the world to me. The time that you give to me is a rich grace from God. I love you each one.
Peace for the journey,