The gift of making time

The gift of making time
Perhaps our New Year’s Resolutions should be to make more time for friends, family and God, writes FR Martin Delaney

My father loved clocks and watches. His most treasured possession was a pocket watch bought with his first wage packet as a young man. At the age of 94, when he was dying, he called me aside one day and gave me his treasured timepiece. Not much was said. We both cried. A life was coming to an end and time was moving on.

Somehow at the beginning of each new year, I return to that moment of time. I am called to reflect on the year that has ended and of course I look forward to this new gift of 365 days. Each of these days the clock divides into hours minutes and seconds. How will I use this gift of time? My father often talked about how the mechanical clock was one of the most significant inventions ever made.

Before the mechanical clock time was only measured during the daylight hours. Night was a time to relax, exchange stories and sleep. The mechanical clock incorporated the night hours into its measurements. Ironically the first users of the mechanical clock were the medieval monks whose duty it was to pray at set times of the day including the night time hours. This instrument which was invented to summon people to prayer can today so easily contribute to the stress and pressures of life. The clock can be a demanding taskmaster tempting us to fill every hour and minute with busyness leaving little time for God, ourselves and the other significant relationships in our lives.

I am reminded of an address which Barbara Bush, wife of the first President Bush, gave to students who were graduating from university. In one passage she said: “As important as your obligation as a doctor, a lawyer or a business leader may be, your human connections with your spouse, your children and your friends are the most important investment you will ever make. At the end of your life you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal, but you will regret time not spent with your spouse, your children or your friends.”

The scriptures on the first Sunday of 2016 more than once reminded us that “the Word was made flesh and lived among us”.

As we are still in the infancy days of this new year and resolutions are still a possibility, maybe we might reflect on what Mrs Bush said about creating time for family and friends but also to create the time and space for Him who has come to make His home in our lives.

Nebuchadnezzar: I had great sympathy for the readers at our daily Mass during the final weeks of the Church year. The prophet Daniel provided some very long passages with a few jawbreaker names. It reminded me of a reader at Mass in Dublin a few years ago. He was struggling with King Nebuchadnezzar’s name. After a while when the king’s name appeared in the text the reader simply substituted by saying “yer man”!

Just three cups of tea

I recently came across Greg Mortenson’s book Three Cups of Tea. Having fallen ill while trying to climb K2, Mortenson was welcomed to a remote Muslim village in Pakistan. The locals cared for him and nursed him back to health.

The title of the book comes from a local proverb of this very poor ethnic group called the Balti: “The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honoured guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family.”