Monday, June 6, 2011

Tempus Fugit

Okay. I know. It’s only been two weeks since my last post, but evidently I’m not finished with this topic of time. I subscribe to Weavings Journal, an Upper Room publication that comes out once a quarter. I just got an email notifying me that their upcoming issue will be on the subject of…guess what?  “What Then Is Time?”

 This happens to me often. I’ll post a blog or muse on a book title or prepare a message for some speaking invitation and voila` – I’ll see the topic appearing all around me. Lance Wallnau calls that having your reticular activator turned on. You know, you buy a red Ford Explorer and suddenly you see red Ford Explorers all over the place.

 But what if it’s more than that? What if there is really a collective consciousness or a current message to the universe whose vibes are coming from God? I figure whatever it is, I’m either tapping into it too late to capture the right timing, or not acting on those vibrations fast enough to coincide with their purpose. Having worked for two years on a new book titled The Scent of Water, it was a grave disappointment to discover Ravi Zacharias’s daughter just released her first book with that same title. Once again, I waited too long to move on my impressions.

 “So many priceless hours from the platter of my living.
 Now with precious care I nibble the edges of moments, savoring each crumb,
treasuring the taste of life against my larder's dwindling supply.”1

 As I mulled over those words, I couldn’t help but see my last post about the apple core, fish nibbling sweetness of it away, a picture of how I savor all the crumbs of time I have left from my life’s dwindling supply.

Tempus Fugit. Remember seeing that inscripted on the grandfather clock in the hallway? Why was it there? What did it mean? It’s a Latin phrase, often inscribed on timepieces, which means “Time Flees.” Or, we would say, “time flies.” It was first used by the Roman poet, Virgil. Sed fugit interea fugit irreparabile tempus, singula dum capti circumvectamur amore, which means, "But meanwhile it flees: time flees irretrievably, while we wander around, prisoners of our love of detail."

Instead of micromanaging details, what if I savored them? At 68, I feel like I’m just waking up to a world of wonder, surrounded by whole kingdoms of life I never took time before to observe. This morning alone I watched a redwing blackbird on the feeder unexpectedly assert his preeminence over a bold bluejay. In fact, that blackbird has run off just about anything that tried to get to the feeder – even birds three times its size.

 Then Bob and I noticed two moorhens in the water, a mother and her duckling. The moorhen or Gallinule is a small duck-like bird that has a distinctive back and forth movement as it swims. It’s much smaller than a wood duck, but has a bright red shield over its beak and signature yellow feet. We were enjoying the little family when all of a sudden a great white egret flew into our cove and landed near the edge of the lake wall about 10 ft. away from the moorhens. I was surprised to watch that mother Gallinule begin swimming aggressively towards the egret who outsized her 10 to 1. She came so swiftly and with such determination that the egret spread his wings and took to the air. “And that’s that!” she seemed to say. “Get outta here.”

 Within a minute of that drama, a very large pileated woodpecker landed in the oak tree to the left of all the water action. He’s a striking black bird, not only because of his size (at 16-19 inches long he’s the largest woodpecker in North America), but because of the triangular red cap on his head and the black and white striations down the sides of his throat. He was after ants, his favorite breakfast food.

 Virgil was right about time fleeing irretrievably. But what if, in our daily wanderings, we become prisoners of details that reveal God’s presence all around us? What if we see Him laughing at the boldness of a smaller bird with a bigger bird? What if we translate that picture from the wildlife to our life and hear God say, “Don’t fear those circumstances or people who seem able to overcome you. I am here, and I will give you courage to do whatever is necessary.”

 Two Scriptures come readily to mind (italics are added):

 2 Peter 1:3 NLT

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.

Romans 1:20 AMP

 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made

What surrounds us is speaking to us of divine and eternal things, revealing the very nature of God. His Word tells us that He is communicating intelligibly through the creation and He makes everything about His attributes clearly discernible in this way. No one has any excuse to say they didn’t know God.

In her book, Prodigal Summer, Barbara Kingsolver helps us feel both the smallness and the hugeness of the life that surrounds us. Search for prodigal summer

            “…solitude is only a human presumption. Every quiet step is thunder to beetle life underfoot…”

We step on kingdoms beneath our feet and crush the life around us in our scurrying busyness. Why not make ourselves “prisoners of detail” to the intricacies and beauty around us that speaks of Him?

1 "Tempus by Sister Dorothy Anne Cahill, C.S.C. from "The Time is Ripe", Weavings,XIV/I, January/ February 1999.


  1. I love hearing about those little birds facing and conquering their Goliaths. You inspire me to take notice of the details! Great piece. Nice pics. They add so much.
    Seed of Faith

  2. Hi Cathee!

    It's Binsey from Your Writer's Group. Wasn't sure how to contact you . . . I think private messages on YWG get overlooked sometimes so I'm trying through your beautiful blog.

    I have a proposition for you regarding my MS, "Nothing." Looking for an editor. Would you be interested?

    With love,

  3. Sorry, forgot blogs don't include contact info! I'll look for a private msg on YWG this week from you.