“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”
― William Penn
When I take the boys’ photos each Autumn, sometimes in my pop-up studio and sometimes out in the wild, I become reluctantly reacquainted with the relentless passage of time. The subtle changes in their faces are a fine example of the muse:
“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back, everything is different?”
There is no pause button in life. No way to slow the record down. Time is steady, unfaltering, and ceaseless. It is a double-edged sword; it is both despair and hope. Anticipation and dread. Injury and salve. Time is bittersweet, for when it moves slowly I hurry it along, and when it is past, I long to rewind and revisit.
I am a poor venerator of time. I am often wasting it, treating it like a limitless mountain spring – ever flowing in fresh abundance – instead of a finite pool. Distraction comes easily and I become numb to the flow of sand slipping quietly through the hourglass. I am undeniably indebted to expressions of the onward march – annual events like school photos and birthdays and the putting up of new calendars on January 1; also, the seasonal reminders like planting and harvesting a garden, changing batteries in the smoke detector, and putting up the Christmas Tree. If I am paying attention, these things can prompt me to use the time I have with intention and with a generous heart – a reminder to “number my days, that I may gain a heart of wisdom – Psalm 90:12”.
And my longing for the limits of time to be lifted? It’s really just that tattoo of eternity needled onto my heart, aching like an old wound, admonishing me to set my eyes on things above.