“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Many of us have heard this famous Bible verse turned Byrds’ lyrics, but have you ever considered how it applies to daily life? Personally, I’ve been rather stuck on thinking about the intangible concept of time for quite awhile. My quest began on an unplanned Florida vacation three years ago.
To explain, I was supposed to join my late mother and two sisters on a cruise ship headed for the Caribbean to celebrate my sister’s 50th birthday. Instead birthday girl had a frightening health crisis in the Washington airport and was rushed to the hospital.
This left me stranded in the airport in Ft.Lauderdale, not wanting to board the ship without news of her status. Inwardly panicking about what to do next, my brother who is a Florida realtor heard about my plight. He called me in the airport with a gracious invitation to stay with his family in Naples just a couple hours away. Thankfully, I later received word that my sister would be fine, too.
Despite the fact that it was the busy season for selling real estate and I was an unplanned-for guest, they made me feel incredibly welcome. One night after supper, my brother even offered to take me to the beach near sunset. It was there that we met an elderly woman who gave me a lesson about time. Her tanned face was so leathery and wrinkled from the Florida sun, that it was difficult to tell her age. Probably mid-eighties, yet there was a kind of vitality about this silver-haired senior that made you think she was younger. She was a widow who had enjoyed the Floridian lifestyle in retirement, but she shared that she would be reluctantly returning to the Midwest soon.
“It’s time,” she said simply. “I have a daughter and her family up north.” My compassionate sibling shook his head knowingly, and with understanding in his voice softly echoed her words back in acknowledgement. “It’s time.” Time for what, I wondered, while guessing that this was a final life stage. As soon as the woman disappeared, I sat on a bench pensively staring out at the vast blue-green Gulf of Mexico picking up seashells sensing that something sacred had just happened. Finally, I asked Don, “What did she mean, ‘It’s time?’”
I can’t remember his exact words, but he explained that often there comes a season when it’s no longer wise for retired Florida transplants to live alone. When health, security, and planning-ahead requires them to move to an area where they will be surrounded by family who can care for them in case of a crisis. Usually this means moving back home. These practical seniors are planning for their final days, but that doesn’t mean that the joy of living and being fulfilled stops.
After all, there is also, “A time to be born, and a time to die.” Yet there is that metaphorical dash that exists between these two stages. Each day we are given needs to be cherished, because inevitably a moment comes for all of us when the sand in the hourglass runs out.
My nephew, Chris is barely thirty, yet he has also been thinking about time. My sister, Janet, told me that her son believes that when you are young time goes slowly because you are doing everything for the first time. While for those of us who have been around the block more than once, nothing is new, so time speeds swiftly by. I’m not sure I agree with Chris’s theory, but I find it admirable that he’s willing to contemplate the time warp aging creates. After all, decades ago when my late grandmother shared her impression that as one ages, “Time flies,” I found it rather unscientific and random.
Through the years, I have discovered that Grandma’s opinion is all too true. Like, 86-year-old Victor Delamonte, a main character in Mitch Albom’s 2012 book, The Time Keeper, I find myself wanting to beat Father Time and hold onto the valuable moments of today. You have to read the book to see the lengths that wealthy Victor undertakes to try to make this happen.
In the end, there is no way to buy more time. Instead we have to make the most of each precious day that we are given, living it as though it were our last. While understanding that time is truly one of the most valuable gifts that we possess.
Christina Ryan Claypool is a freelance journalist and inspirational speaker. Contact her through her Website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com She blogs at www.christinaryanclaypool.com/blog1 This column originally appeared in The Lima News and the Sidney Daily News.