The following is a transcript of a Raised Catholic episode. To listen to the episode, click here.
Today is episode 94: What Time Is It?
Hi friends. As I sit and write in my yard today, it feels like summer, but the calendar clearly reads mid-October. My dog is stretched out in the sun, which is her very favorite thing to do, but now there are dry leaves scattered all around her. The sun is warm, but its angle and light are shifting lower in the sky, and we can all feel it, right? Time is moving. We measure time in a variety of ways – by the clock and the calendar, by our activities and experiences, by historical and global events, and by what we observe through our senses.
If I asked you the question today, in this very moment, ‘What time is it?”, how would you reply?
Well, as I look to the right-hand upper corner of my laptop, I see that it is 11:06am on Sunday morning, October 16, 2022. For me, it is the last couple of weeks I’ll have at age 50 and it is a time of returning to running, thanks be to God. In my family, we are in a time of good fortune, and also, of transition to an empty nest and fully adult relationships with our grown kids. In the Church, we are in the period of Ordinary Time prior to Advent, and also, a time of a Global Synod on Synodality. By the way, have you heard about the Synod yet, where you are? Gosh, I hope so.
We could also define the time by our activity, like maybe it’s time to go for a walk or a run, or time to leave for work, time to start dinner. Maybe it’s prayer time, time to go to the doctor or time to start our Christmas shopping. Or we can measure time relationally, like maybe it’s girls’ night, family time, time with our church community or book club or even ‘alone time’ which, if you’re an introvert like me, is a very necessary and sacred time.
If we look at world events, you could make the case that we are in a time of post-pandemic, or of pre-economic collapse. A time of global uncertainty and concern over nuclear war. Here in the United States, it is very clearly a time of social and political turbulence and divide.
The ways in which we experience time has been a subject studied by scientists, philosophers, poets, musicians, physicists, writers, mathematicians, theologians, and more. Though we experience time as moving and flowing, from past to present to future, science would tell us that that experience is probably an illusion. Our consciousness is only now – in a very real way, this moment is really all we have.
We’ve all had the experience of a childhood summer that seemed to stretch on forever, yet now the summer seems to fly by, and this makes sense, right? One summer at age ten was 1/40th or 2.5% of our whole life while one summer now at age 50 takes up 1/200th or just .5% of my life. So, of course the time feels shorter and smaller as I experience each season now. No wonder it feels like time is ‘flying’.
Because time is like the very water we swim in and a commodity we consistently use, we can have a hard time conceiving a God who is outside of time. The language from the Book of John, Chapter 1, sounds more like poetry or like a puzzle than something that we are meant to actually comprehend. It says,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
In the Second Letter of Peter, we’re warned to “not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.” In Isaiah Chapter 57, we’re told that God inhabits eternity and in the Second Letter of Timothy, we’re told that God has saved us and “given us a holy calling according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” And I’m going to repeat that last one, friends. He gave us our holy calling before the world began. In this beautiful verse, we can get a beginning of an inkling of the awesome meaning and timelessness of not only God but of our lives too and isn’t that so cool?
So, spiritually speaking, how should those of us who are in time, relate to or use the time that we are given?
I believe the example of Jesus would lead us to two steps: discern what time it actually is, and then use our time well. Jesus had a strong sense of his own time clock and importance which was not tied to longevity but to purpose. And I hope we’re past the point of believing that a long life is the gold standard for humans here on Earth. For those of us who profess Christianity, that idea is both demonstrably untrue and even heretical.
Jesus frequently spoke about ‘his time’. When his Mom asked for a quick miracle at the Wedding of Cana, he replied that ‘his time had not yet come’ to begin his public ministry. Later in the Book of John, Jesus skips a festival that his disciples attended, saying, ““My time is not yet here; for you any time will do.” In the lead-up to the Last Supper, he directed his disciples to make preparations, saying, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’”
Well, it’s clear that Jesus was well acquainted with his own time and purpose, even calendar and schedule. He often withdrew from the crowd in order to commune with His Father and it seems that that practice was the well from which He drew this other-worldly clarity and understanding about His own time. He heard from His Father precisely what He was meant to do with His time. He listened, He discerned, and then He walked it out in real time, and friend, we can do that too.
In the Book of Luke, Jesus tells us a parable. He said,
“Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Friend, He is asking us to pay attention.
So, what time is it?
As we look around us at our Church, our communities, and the world, and as we hopefully withdraw to meet with God in prayer, as we look at the span of our own lives, I wonder how you would answer that question now, “What time is it?”
Because when we answer that question, from a place of groundedness and belovedness, and knowing, from a certainty about the knowledge that our purpose was given to us by a loving God before the world even began, we can discern that answer for ourselves and then, as Jesus did, we can use our time well and with intention.
Carpe diem, friend. Seize the day. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.
Well, thanks so much for listening today, friend. If you need me, you can find me on Instagram @kerrycampbellwrites or on my blog at mylittleepiphanies.com. Thanks so much for rating, reviewing, subscribing and most importantly, sharing this podcast with a friend. That really makes a difference in growing our community, so thanks. If you’d like to support this podcast financially, there’s a way for you to do that in the show notes, along with lots of resources related to today’s episode, so do check all of that out, but before we go, let’s pray together.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen.
Dear God, thank you that today, we are here. Help us to draw close to you, to discern our time, and to use it well. As it says in the psalms, our times are in your hands, so we trust you. Help us to hear you well and to walk out our lives with purpose and intention. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’s name we pray, amen.
Well thanks so much for listening, friend, and I’ll see you next time.
This week we are pondering our experience of time through a spiritual lens. We will look to Jesus as a great example of someone who marked and discerned His time, and who used it with intention and purpose.
If you’d like to connect with me, find me on Instagram or on my blog. If you’d like to help support this podcast financially, there’s now a way to do just that, and thank you – visit me on my page at buymeacoffee.com! Thanks as always for sharing, subscribing, rating, and reviewing, as this helps our community to grow!
Here are some resources I hope will help you to engage with this week’s topic in a deeper way for yourself:
1. Article: Time’s Passage is Probably an Illusion, from Scientific American
2. Video: Carpe Diem scene from Good Will Hunting
3. Article: St. Augustine’s Relativistic Theory of Time, from Church Life Journal
4. Song: Who Lives, Who Does, Who Tells Your Story, from Hamilton Original Broadway Soundtrack
5. Song: Seasons of Love, from Rent Original Broadway Soundtrack
6. Quote: “Our life comes to us moment by moment. One moment disappears before the next comes along: and there is room for very little in each. That is what Time is like. And of course you and I tend to take it for granted that this Time series–this arrangement of past, present, and future–is not simply the way life comes to us but the way all things really exist. We tend to assume that the whole universe and God himself are always moving on from past to future just as we do. But many learned men do not agree with that. Almost certainly God is not in Time. HIs life does not consist of moments following one another…
If you picture Time as a straight line along which we have to travel, then you must picture God as the whole page on which the line is drawn. We come to the parts of the line one by one: we have to leave A behind before we get to B, and cannot reach C until we leave B behind. God, from above or outside or all around, contains the whole line, and sees it all.” – C.S. Lewis, from “Mere Christianity”
7. Journal prompt: What time is it?
-in my family
-in my community
-in our church
-in the world
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