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Reflecting on our feelings about time and our use of time is a frightening responsibility, because time is an impenetrable mystery, and yet, God's priceless gift to us. Beginning with the cavemen who measured time by the stages of the moon, we have tried to manage and measure time.

Stonehenge, that eerie collection of rocks, is believed to have been an effort to tell time. The Egyptians used shadow docks and sundials. Water docks, sand docks, and marked candles were all early attempts to measure time.

Now most of us wouldn't face the day without a watch on our wrist, despite the fact that all measurements of time prove inaccurate. We create a leap year to help us catch up with lost time. Blue moons, occurring once every 2.7 years, surprise and unsettle us.

God's division of time by seasons, moons, and days is still the truest measure. When night falls and the creatures of the day retire, we know it is time to rest. With the appearance of the full moon, we know a new time has come.

Spring brings flowers, summer brings the sun's heat, fall dresses itself in a garland of colors - only to be followed by the soft snow covering nature for a longer rest.

The seasons help us measure and visualize time.

We, too, may be blue when confronted with the puzzle of time, God's nonrenewable gift to us. All God's gifts, whether useful or beautiful, are here to refresh us and lead our thoughts to God. All these gifts - water, air, plants, animals, all creatures of the natural world-renew, except for time.

Even the supernatural gift of grace is constantly reanimating our souls. The eucharist returns to us a million times in a million places to renew the sacrifice of the Son for our salvation. All things born of God's knowledge and love are renewed, except for time. A minute lost is a minute gone forever. When tomorrow comes, today is gone eternally. As a consequence we watch our watches, rushing from task to task. We read articles about time-management and fill our days with empty, stress-filled moments.

The author of Ecclesiastes tells us that everything under the sun is vanity and a "chase after the wind" (Eccl. 1:14). Is there no relief? Perhaps we can find solace by taking the time to find God's time as noted in these familiar words.

Our task is to find our way into the rhythms of God's appointed times. Since all natural things on earth are here to draw us to God, we should not be obsessed with the thundering of moments galloping by. We should not find ourselves poor in spirit because time seems to escape us as it moves faster than our hearts can contemplate.

We can learn to use "...the time of our lives in a struggle for self-realization with neither fear nor guilt but with a sense of what it really is to be and to have human dignity."

Learning to use the gift of time well leads us closer to God. Time is a stream flowing by us. Dipping into the sacred waters of time will lift us from the natural to the supernatural, from the human to the divine.

Let us cup our hands and consciously savor each drop from the stream of time. The precious water of time will refresh us and cleanse us to stand before the face of God.

We need not tremble at the passage of time as did this poet:

We know of God and travel and distance from the words of the Psalmist: "You make the clouds your chariot; you travel on the wings of the wind" (Ps 104:3). God will help us travel safely and use the treasure of time well. We need only ask. (from the Introduction)
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