Just a Minute

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“You marked the minutes,” the old man said. “But did you use them wisely? To be still? To be grateful? To lift and be lifted?” —The Timekeeper by Mitch Albom

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Recently my day began at 4:48 in the morning, at which time a four-year-old climbed into my bed with his ant farm, usurped my pillow, and cheerfully sang “Five Little Snowmen Fat. Every verse. I marked the minutes—all 72 of them until it was officially time to get up. I’m sorry, but it was 4:48—4:48 in the morning (or have I mentioned that?)—and that is too early to start the day. (Similarly, “all day” is too long to have “Five Little Snowmen Fat” stuck in one’s head.)

. . . . .

This past weekend my parents offered to host Sonny and Ace overnight. Looking forward to the break, on the designated morning I marked the minutes until J and I dropped them off. And as soon as we did, I marked the minutes until they returned. (Funny how that works, isn’t it?)

. . . . .

We often have trouble getting out the door. It’s time to leave, or it was time to leave seven minutes ago, and there we are, stalled in the mud room. One child can’t find his left shoe. The other can find both of his but wants to see if he can put them on using only one hand. (He can’t, as it turns out.) I mark the minutes, because we are going to be late. And when we finally get into the van, I realize I have forgotten something and must go back inside to get it. More minutes marked.

. . . . .

This historic polar vortex has put us under house arrest this winter. Repeatedly, as though we were repeat offenders of . . . something. Not sure what. The shine of snow days has worn off, and we are cold, and we are all marking the minutes until spring. Shoo, winter, shoo.

. . . . .

I signed up for the Festival of Faith and Writing this year. I can hardly wait, and yes, I’m marking the minutes until it’s time. And when it’s finally Festival time, I will mark the minutes carefully to squeeze every possible drop from the schedule.

. . . . .

Marking the minutes: check. No problem.

But using minutes to be still, to be grateful, to lift and be lifted?  Too often a problem, at least for me.

It’s easy to come up with theories on how to do these things. Successfully practicing these theories, though, is a little different. That takes effort and spending minutes.

I could list the things that help me to be still, to be grateful, to lift and be lifted, but your list is probably different than mine. So.

What helps you be still?

For what are you grateful?

Whom can you lift, and how?

How can you allow yourself to be lifted?

Those things are well worth our minutes. Let’s do them.

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