marking time


Tally Marks

Time will not be managed.

It will not slow. It will not rush. It will not freeze.

I want these short winter days to stretch long. To keep the candles going long after the power returns — careless of chores — just to finish a game of cards in the glow.

Funny how the power outage last night was a welcome relief. The frenzied pace of life is beginning to make my heart ache.

I push hard on the brakes, attempting to slow the clock. Attempting, in my own way, to live deep like my fellow woods-dweller Thoreau.

Saint Paul whispers to me with words of purpose, memorized when I was unconscious of the depth of them: Redeem the time because the days are evil. 

* * * * *

I confess I have been a time marker. Ticking off the hours, the months, the years, waiting for the passing of time to do its business . . .

Seconds til the game’s over. Minutes til school’s out. Hours til I can go to bed. Days til my mom visits. Weeks til the baby is due. Months til the debt is paid.

. . . Years til was is accepted as true . . .

The first days, weeks and months after we flushed Dave’s Ultram passed agonizingly slow.

I know Dave was counting them off.

Seconds of self-denial. Minutes of nausea. Hours of withdrawal. Days of restlessness. Weeks of coming back to recovery meetings. Months of accountability and faithfulness. Hours of clocking in at work. Months of humbly handing over receipts or handing the phone to a friend or pastor to confirm where he was.

Years of honesty.

Trust is not instantly restored. Trust takes time.

It was a terrible penance, I know, for Dave to live with me. My reluctant hope resembled skepticism, my beat-up faith expressed in anger.

I must have quit marking time some time ago . . .

I hadn’t noticed. 

But in the looking back, I see.

Time is for proving.

* * * * *

Recovering addicts mark the days. And celebrate them.

A coin, signifying 30 days. 90 days. 6 months. A year of daily battle. Two years of defeating destructive habits . . .

And now, we have come to five.

Five years and two months on a path of healing, removing heavy, bitter stones along the way.

Time heals . . . for we are no longer the same.

The anniversary passed quietly. A kiss. A moment of silence in the midst of the chaos of living . . .

Peace.

I am not in a hurry, now, to pass the time.

Time heals griefs and quarrels, for we change and are no longer the same persons. Neither the offender nor the offended are any more themselves.– Blaise Pascal, The Pensees, 1669

11 thoughts on “marking time

  1. I’ve spent much if my life waiting and marking time. Waiting for the next thing and counting the days til it came. I’ve found that while I wait for (fill in the blank) I have sat still for permission to move, to act or to go. I was reminded this morning, “what am I waiting for?”.. Waiting for a better time, for more wisdom, for a calling or for more ideal circumstances. God has already called me to much and even these jobs can overwhelm me. The opportunities to obey and/or serve my Lord are offered to me every day. The chance to pray for or with someone. The moments to encourage others and share Christ are all around me. I will wait no more, I will move. Move toward Christ, move to love those around me like I have been loved. Move into obedience. The time is now, for tomorrow is unknown.
    Its not quite the same perspective you were addressing, but was on my heart.

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    1. I love this, Melinda. And it is encouraging to me. We are giving ourselves permission to move forward as well. Looking forward to see where you and I will go.

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  2. This is perfect for a friend who is beginning a long journey–yesterday. This explains it very well. My friend will cry as I am, with thankfulness for you, and prayers and tears for them.

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    1. Oh, I should not have read this at the Y! Got all teary. If I am thankful for one thing, it is that God has been using our story to encourage people in dark places. I’ll pray for your friend.

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