Time – Everything and Nothing

The line of cubicles appeared as if nothing had been moved or worked in for months. They hadn’t. Several surrounding offices also displayed Valentine’s Day decorations from February 2020. Everywhere I looked, empty offices that hadn’t been habited in 11 months contained photographs, office supplies and even sweaters still hung on the back of chairs.

While the eerie scene at my new job reminded me of a SciFi thriller, nothing was stranger than the desk next to mine where the woman’s calendar remained laid on her desk, opened to March 2020. Her hand cream, space heater and half full bottle of water remained exactly as they were nearly a year earlier. Like most of the company employees, she now worked from home with no intentions of returning.

I found it very curious why the permanently remote employees wouldn’t have come back to the office to collect their personal belongings. Just as I determined to clean up that desk next to me, the woman showed up one day! I was excited at the prospect that maybe there would be another human in the beautiful but empty building but that was a short-lived hope. She explained how she hadn’t been there in nearly a year, came in for a brief meeting, and let me know she would not be returning. Well, at least she could finally get her stuff.

As she put on her coat, I didn’t feel comfortable asking but seriously wondered why she wasn’t at least taking her hand cream with her. Or why she wasn’t throwing out the food in her drawers that was likely stale or worse. We merely exchanged pleasantries and she reaffirmed that she would not be returning.

A few days later, the orderly gal that I am could no longer walk by that desk without cleaning it. I put away her personal belongings and notified management that they might want to address the food in the drawers. Order was restored.

Weird, right?

A few days later, I looked at the cleared desk next to me and still saw that calendar in my mind, opened to March 2020. Flipping my own devotional calendar page to February 12th, I was once again stunned by the speed of time. Some people are still enjoying their outdoor Christmas lights but the reality is that lent starts this week.

It’s been a whirlwind month, starting a new job, hosting my daughter’s (serious) boyfriend from 1500 miles away, game nights with the kids, teaching Sunday School and lots of cooking and cleaning up. Blessings have abounded these last five weeks but I need some quiet time where life slows. Don’t we all?

Staring at my February 12th devotion, time and numbers started occupying my mind. Other than collapsing in bed for six hours a night, I hadn’t rested. Where do we fit in rest between work, ministry and serving others? I’m still trying to do everything I did with my 32-hour work week in the old job, with my 47-hour work week in the new job.

Listening to my brother-in-law wonder out loud about what will happen now that oncologists have run out of options for him, time and numbers again filled my thoughts…

  • That book I started in December has just one more chapter waiting for me to finish…
  • Door to door commute and work hours tally around 50…At 20 I would have been okay with that. At half a century, I have other interests.
  • The new work project has 950 lines of Excel that require a minimum of 20 minutes per line
  • My eyes raise to the circle clock on the office wall and I fixate on the second hand…the sound of the tick, tick, tick suddenly seems louder…
  • My precious bonus child texts that the baby has arrived, 7lbs…my eyes tear with joy, then with sadness that her Mom and my friend has been gone nearly 5 years…
  • My counterpart announces the number of walking steps on her watch…
  • I think of the 40 WordPress posts I’ve missed…written by wonderful people who I enjoy so very much…

We count everything. We also measure and size…Our weight. Her weight. His height. Her hair length. His car. Their score, salary, square footage…

My brother-in-law has never been concerned with such things and more than ever could care less about anything worldly. His thoughts have become other-worldly. He speaks often of the Lord. His somberness makes me reevaluate…

It’s February of 2021. Yes, we need to earn a living but we also need to live. How much is enough? Does living on less-than necessarily equal a less-than life? I think of those folks who downsized giant homes, quit good jobs, made former hobbies their current living – at less salary but more joy.

Countless novelists and song writers have centered their work upon time.

Time is fleeting but can feel slow…hours in a boring job, 2am blood pressure checks when you’re hospitalized – praying endlessly to just. Go. Home.

Whether we’re waiting for Covid to pass or the promotion to arrive or the child to outgrow the terrible twos…we must caution ourselves not to wish those seconds away. I’ve certainly been guilty of it. While God operates outside of time, we stare at it. On our phone, wrist, the wall…we are excited in November when we gain an hour and grumble in March when we lose it again.

As is with most of life, balance seems to be one solution to our modern-day time-obsession. Balance work with play. Balance activity with rest. Sometimes doing nothing isn’t wasted time. It’s just refreshment for what’s next. I’m taking my own advice.

On this Valentine’s Day, my belly is full of delicious food my husband made. My kids are with their significant others and I’ve rested much of the afternoon. Sure, there were many tasks post-church that could have been done, but spending time reading, writing and watching a Hallmark movie were necessary before embarking upon the demanding week ahead.

Happy Valentine’s Day!Heart Valentines Day Clip art - Decorations Transparent ...


17 thoughts on “Time – Everything and Nothing

  1. As I read this wonderfully insightful post of yours, I couldn’t help but think “Are we truly LIVING during this time?” I certainly don’t know what answer there may be to the issues we now face, but it seems to me that we are merely existing instead of living in this time God has allotted for us. I assumed that you’ve been swamped with your new job since I haven’t heard from you here in blogging land. I’m hopeful that you can find more time to enjoy life as you did on Valentine’s Day.

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    • Thank you-I’m going to work on a bit more balance. I’ve missed you and the blogging community! I agree with you regarding existence but not fully living. I’m praying this year brings more freedom for all of us.

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  2. Your description of your new job with things left just as they were sounds a little creepy and certainly like science fiction. Thanks for sharing your reflections. I am thankful to be retired from teaching–especially after reading an article today about Oregon training middle school teachers how to teach math in a non racist way. One of the main tenets is that there is more than one correct answer to the problems. Also you don’t have to show your work. Math!!! I hope this week is a good one for you.

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  3. It still surprises me the way time expands and contracts according to our perceptions. When I’m working and “in a groove” time flies. When I have a less than pleasant task it drags. I’ve found that I have to make time for those things that are important to me. Generally the other stuff will happen despite my planning but the special time must be carved out of the hustle and bustle of the work. My Lenten resolution is to make time to pray and read my devotions daily. I suppose 40 days will be a good start to make it a habit…

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  4. Such welcoming thoughts on the time God has given us. Somber, yet real perspective while reading about your brother-in-law. Being in the grandparenting, still working part-time phase, I’m trying to lean into making time for quiet moments when the world is loud. Thanks for sharing your real time life with us. Cherish the moments!

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    • None of us want to miss any moments! Good job trying to schedule quiet time. Sometimes we literally do have to make an appointment to be still for a few hours or even an entire day.


  5. I hope your pace can slow down a bit. It was fun to read about the desk next to yours. I’ve been retired almost seven years, and all I remember was an office filled with busy workers. Things are vastly different these days.

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