“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”...these famous opening words from A Tale of Two Cities have been buzzing around in my head lately.
Time - we can’t escape it, it is with us every step of the way in our journey through life.
This morning, I was awoken by a noise, I couldn’t quite make out what it was - I opened my eyes and looked at the clock to see what time it was and to my surprise saw it was ten past three then twenty past three, then half past three - all in about ten seconds! The hands of the clock were whirring round at a remarkable speed. It was quite a shock to see time fly past, and all sorts of thoughts rush through your sleep befuddled head. Is this your life flashing before your eyes? Has H G Wells been fiddling with his time machine? Is that Mrs B snoring or a terrible Morlock heading my way?
Eventually it dawned on me - the alarm clock is one of those radio controlled devices and no doubt it was just re-aligning itself with the atomic clock in Geneva or some equally exotic location, like Pleasley.
It eventually slowed and stopped at 5.25am.
I think time has been on my mind because of recent events including three funerals for children who didn’t seem to have had their fair share of time.
Reading the list of names at the crematorium yesterday and seeing the ages, from 4 months to 98 years - it really does make you think.
None of us are promised a tomorrow and making the most of today has been a mantra for me but no matter how hard you try, no matter how hard you tell yourself that it is the life in your days not the days in your life that count - none of us want to think about our days running out.
In this midst of all this ‘worst of times’, comes some events which show the other side of the clock face - I am presently arranging a naming ceremony for a new arrival in a family, and then on the news today, seeing those Chilean miners being rescued, surely the ‘best of times’ for them and their families.
And it is then you realise that in one minute across the world, millions of people will be experiencing different things. In one day, about 300,000 people will die and about half a million will be born.
One minute is therefore 6.8 billion minutes...and the clock is ticking.
“Time sweeps everything away. Like the ceaseless waves of a mighty sea, it clashes upon the shore of each human life, seizing the artifacts and elements with which we signify our existence; and - with neither disdain nor regard - it spirits them away. When it takes our sorrow or our despair, we may begin to believe that it is merciful. But when it steals beauty and innocence and charm and joy, we know that it is without compassion. Like the sea, time has no heart. It sweeps away everything. And neither our resistance nor our regret can stay its flow”.
I used this poem by Robert Sexton in the very first funeral I wrote - I have never used it since and I am not sure why. Perhaps its honesty is not what people really want at a funeral?
But the honesty of time is something we should not fear, accepting that we cannot change it, we should embrace it and so today I just ask you to acknowledge time - you can let it be a clock that ticks away the seconds of your life, or you can let it be the metronome that sets your pace as you journey on...the choice is yours.
There are more quotes about time than almost anything else - but here a couple for you to think about.
“Time is the fire in which we burn”. Delmore Schwartz
“Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment, because it will never come again”. Jean-Luc Picard
And finally - the full glory of Mr Dickens...
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog - now bugger off the lot of you!