The element of time is strangely elusive. The value we place on time is even more so. Is one hour of life to be cherished more than another?
A young woman, mother and friend passed away recently. While her days on earth were waning someone posted on her Facebook page that visitors were being asked to allow her son, mother and others close to her to spend uninterrupted time with her because “the time was precious.”
It got me to thinking – – – are the hours near the end of our lives any more valuable than those leading up to it? Really, is any one hour, whenever lived, more important; is any single hour less priceless?
Seven years ago I was able to spend important time with my own dad as he neared death. And, yes, we did have that inevitable conversation everyone talks about – was there any regret over lost time with loved ones due to work and other responsibilities or obligations? Those hours were a gracious blessing to me – not because they came near the end of our time together – but because we were just that – together. Talking and sharing and just being quiet – – together.
A beloved lady I know, an open-hearted grandmother to three treasured granddaughters, just watched as they moved to a new home in a new state several hours away. Does the distance now eradicate the investment of the many hours she has already devoted to their young lives? Absolutely not! Not one moment was wasted and their future hours together will be that much more gratifying to each of them because their delight will be that much more longed for.
Hours, days, weeks . . . . man-made concepts laced with man-made values.
When I worked as a full-time attorney every billable hour had a specific monetary value. To quantify an hour in dollars was the norm. But how distorted that norm!
Is the significance of an hour for an attorney sitting in a meeting, being paid hundreds of dollars, more valuable than each hour for a young pregnant woman standing on her feet for eight hours earning minimum wage? The significance is subjective; the value dependent on the viewpoint – – – likewise, the value and preciousness of each hour of our lives.
The hour a weary mom spends, dressed in her “not-so-finery,” holding a sick child is every bit (and arguably substantially more) as vital as the hour I’ve spent in an “important” meeting.
Here’s an interesting chain of events that occurred in my “professional” life: After I became a mom I went back to work part-time. My salary was converted to an hourly wage. I no longer spent endless hours at the office. I went to work, did my job, then returned to my mommy-hood as quickly as I could. My firm ended up hiring three of us part-time moms. Why? I think because our hours had become more valuable outside of our careers so we became more efficient at the office in order to return as soon as possible to the little ones we’d left behind.
I eventually became a stay-at-home mom spending as much time as I could with my girls. Yet, when my oldest daughter turned 18 an overwhelming thought settled upon me – “there is still so much I haven’t said to her.” Our continuous hours together seemed so meager. As each of my other daughters has reached that “age of emancipation” I’ve experienced that same feeling of deficiency. Is there ever enough time with those we love most dearly? No matter their age, no matter the amount of time you actually spend together?
I’ve thought much about the hours I’ve frittered away watching mindless television shows or playing games on the computer. Sure, I think “mindless” hours are often needed to clear the mind and rest the body – – but at what cost?
I also think of the hours upon hours we drive to and fro to spend time with our girls. It’s most valuable when they are actually with us as we go from place to place – – we wouldn’t trade a second of that time we get to experience either with or for them. A few weeks ago I drove five hours on an “errand” with one of them. Yes, I could have been cleaning house, dusting, shopping for the groceries we needed and doing a thousand other chores – but the time was precious. As a family we’ve sat through myriads of hours of concerts, musicals, volleyball and basketball games, swim meets and anything else our girls have been involved in. I’ve watched countless hours of television just sitting by them – accomplishing absolutely nothing else other than “just sitting by them.” I don’t want to wait until there is finality to life to “just sit by them.”
Each hour of our lives holds incomparable value. There is not a sliding scale of importance from year to year or situation to situation.
So I ask: How are you pouring out your hours? Are they being poured out in frustration, anger, bitterness, jealousy or investments in “things” that don’t really matter? Or are they being poured out in joy, kindness, helpfulness, friendliness or just “being together?” Are you pouring them out in prayer, service, love, thought and meaningful matters?
We begin each day with the number of hours designated to us. With each turn of the clock we leave another hour behind.
At the end of our lives not one single hour is more precious – they are all gifts to be cherished. I don’t want to waste the ones allotted to me.
Thought to Ponder: To reiterate – How are you pouring out your hours? Are they being poured out in frustration, anger, bitterness, jealousy or investments in “things” that don’t really matter? Or are they being poured out in joy, kindness, helpfulness, friendliness or just “being together?” Are you pouring them out in prayer, service, love, thought and meaningful matters?