Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Matter of Time....

Time slips through my fingers. I glance up at the crystal clock perched on the bookshelf above my desk and am astounded that two hours have slunk by, unnoticed. Yes, I've been on the computer, framing responses on The Lamp Post (see sidebar) to the question of New Years' Resolutions, of evaluation of the past year and hopes for the next. I've been reading incoming e-mails from Home School Legal Defense Association and from our Class Day coordinator. I've been reading and responding to the Bible reading for today at the Bible Book Club (see sidebar). So how has the day slipped away? How has it become 3:45 in the afternoon and I have so little accomplished?

Yes, the computer is a huge time-consumer. It chomps huge chunks of time, hour by hour. It feels as though something so important is being done: reading about Scriptures, evaluating, thinking, and composing posts, copying and pasting books and movie lists for the past year. After all, I did read 50 books this year and watched 71 films -- isn't it beneficial to share these lists for the benefit of others? Perhaps.

But the computer isn't the only thing that fritters away precious time. A "quick trip" to the library and post office with my daughter ends up taking forty minutes. Helping one child locate a lost reading book takes more time. Playing a game of "Set" with our youngest swallows up the time until lunch. Listening to my eldest son recite the closing of his latest reader also involves an investment of time. Yet investing time in our children, even on a day "off" from school (despite their need to "catch up" on a few subjects), doesn't seem like a waste of time; it is, as I stated earlier in this paragraph, an investment.

I also spent nearly an hour this morning in prayer and Scripture reading -- also time well-invested. Lighting a candle, kneeling in my special corner, praying Scripture, Psalms, Collects, and intercessions, reading from Psalms, Genesis, Isaiah, and 1 John, and quieting my spirit before His Spirit -- all of these bring peace to my heart as well as glory to my Lord. Time well-spent.

So time flows. Some of it is "invested" more wisely in some pursuits than in others. And still, the laundry calls to be folded and the bathroom floor cries to be swept. The glasses that are not dishwasher-safe are lined up on the kitchen counter, waiting to be washed. The boys must be followed up upon to make sure that they've truly been catching up on their reading. My daughter needs help with her literature assignment.

So is time on the computer unwisely spent? Not in spiritual pursuits, I'd say. What about in building or sustaining relationships both "in real life" and in cyberspace? Spending time thus seems justified. If I had spent my time on the telephone rather than on the computer, it would have slipped away just the same.

Perhaps, most of the time, computer time isn't as important as time spent with my family or time spent with God. Yet there is still an intrinsic value in time spent in cyberspace. Even if time seems to slip away uncontrollably. My husband uses his computer time to share the Gospel with people around the world, most of them in closed countries like China -- time VERY well-invested.

My desire for today was to spend time researching for my book. Actually, it's been my desire throughout this vacation (of which only five days remain) to read and write about stuff for my topic. Yet real life and computer time seem to have always taken away from the time I desire to spend on my book. Part of it, I'm sure, is avoiding the hard work this book demands -- deep thinking, concentrated reading, detailed notetaking. So I avoid it by letting something else take precedence so that I never quite get around to reading The Rule of St. Benedict or starting on the writings of Julian of Norwich. It's easier to avoid the work than to actually do it, and as most of us cyberbugs know, the computer is an excellent way to avoid work. For instance, take this blog post which has taken at least twenty minutes of time that I could have devoted to Benedict and Julian.... Yeah, point taken.

Time. It's such a strange being. It rules our lives, makes up our lives, and even becomes our lives. Am I content to just let it slip away? Or do I desire to invest my time wisely? Do I allow myself to hide behind activities that distract my time so that I can avoid certain more strenuous ways of spending my time? What about procrastination? How does that element work together or against the time I desire for my goals?

Once school begins on Monday, I will again have little time for the pursuit of writing and researching. My days will be consumed with mathematics and Bible, Latin and history, literature and phonics. My lunch break becomes a sanity break when I rarely want to "waste" time eating and instead desire peace, quiet, and a time for solitude.

And now I must interrupt these musings on time in order to spend time with my daughter who needs help with her Bulfinch's Mythology assignment that she needs to catch up with before school recommences on Monday. So more time will slip away ... I mean, be invested ... right?

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