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Time after time, I'm looking for more time

Columnist Emily Carson says while waiting for an oil change, I experienced two different approaches to time.

Holy Everything — Emily Carson column sig
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As a species, we have a complicated relationship with time, and it shows up in the words we use to talk about it. In the English language, time can be wasted, killed and bought; there are also expressions like “making time,” “spare time” and “borrowed time.”

A second is a second. An hour is an hour. Yet although these increments are standardized and we understand the mechanics of time passing from a scientific perspective, there’s something about it that remains elusive. We can monitor its passing, but we can never change the speed of the perpetual, forward momentum of a planet in motion. Perhaps that’s why we’ve developed such a plethora of idioms to describe our human attempts to control time — a phenomenon over which, try as we might, we do not have any actual authority.

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This Thanksgiving, I’m feeling especially grateful for time and I’m praying for the capacity to steward it wisely.

Every year for the column, I offer a reflection and then a prayer that could be used around your holiday dinner table. Looking back at old editions of the paper, I was reminded that we started this tradition together 12 years ago. In gratitude for the last dozen years we’ve shared, I offer this week’s reflection.

A few weeks ago I went into the shop to get an oil change, and while I was there I received an unexpected word of blessing. Ever-prone to multitasking, I put together a little work station around my spot in the small waiting area. I began labeling a couple hundred postcards for work. As I flipped through the stack, I overheard the other two fellows in the room discussing the cars they drove growing up.

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One guy stepped out because his car was ready to go, and then the other one turned in my direction and began describing how he attempted to teach his wife to drive a stick shift back in the 1960s. He had a long gray beard, denim overalls and a perennial grin. As I addressed postcards, he recounted a variety of vehicle-related recollections. The Car-X waiting space became a sort of living scrapbook as he journeyed down memory lane.

Eventually my oil change was complete. I waved goodbye, and he said, with sudden and great enthusiasm, “Have a good time.”

As I stepped back into the van, I pondered his departing words. One usually tells someone to have a good time when they have a sense of the other party’s intended destination. In the case of the auto shop farewell, the fellow’s words seemed more like a closing benediction — an invitation to have a good time … with all time.

Dear readers, I pray that you, too, have a good time — this holiday weekend and all the rest of the days, too.

A Thanksgiving prayer: Author of Everything, today we gather together around a special meal. Remind us that you are here, too. As we share memories from the past, reflections on the present and hopes for the future, we ask for your help. Inspire within us all the tools we need to build a wise relationship with time. Thank you for today. May we bring our full presence to this shared meal and to the moments we share. May it be a good time. Amen.

"Holy Everything" is a weekly column by Emily Carson. She is a Lutheran pastor. Visit her website emilyannecarson.com .

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