Parish Universalist Church
790 Washington Street, P. O. Box 284, Stoughton, Massachusetts 02072
Church School: 10:30 AM
Finding Time or Making Time
Rev. Jeffrey Symynkywicz, September 11, 2011
While perusing some of the newsletters that have come in the mail from other churches over the summer, I came across a little quote that stayed with me all week. I thought: that’s what I want to talk about on Sunday. It seemed an appropriate point to ponder as we gather together again as a church community, and as we remember, as a community, as a nation, this important anniversary of September 11th.
The quote read: “You will never ‘find’ time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.”
I remembered the quote, but I didn’t remember whose words these were. I thought it was Aristotle or Plato or someone like that. But looking back at the newsletter, I saw that it was originally from someone named Charles Buxton. Charles Buxton? Who’s that? I didn’t know [and I majored in Obscure Names from the Past in college]. So, after “extensive historical research” (I googled him.) I found that Charles Buxton has a (very brief) Wikipedia entry. And it turns out that this Most Quotable Individual lived between 1823 and 1871 and was, St. Wikipedia tells us, “an English brewer, philanthropist, writer, and member of Parliament.”
So, we are starting the year off with a quote from a brewer, which I think bodes well. It should be a fun year!
He wasn’t exactly Aristotle or Plato. Or Milton or Shakespeare. And Mr. Buxton (he never became “Sir Buxton”, even though his father was) only lived to the age of 57, which was not very old even back then, and somewhat disconcerting to those of us will be turning 57 in a couple of days.
But wasn’t that the point of his whole quote? Life
is disconcerting—it throws us for a
loop-- when we consider how fleeting it is and how frighteningly fast the years
can pass. I realize that every Homecoming Sunday when our kids all seem a foot
taller than they were the September before! Some of the children who were
children when I came here to
We realize it as a nation, today, as we pause to consider the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Ten years already? It hardly seems possible. But it is, and we’ll be saying the same thing when the 20th—and 25th—anniversaries comes around, in what will seem the twinkling of an eye.
Way back in the early 1700s, the hymnist Isaac Watts wrote:
Time, like an ever-rolling stream
soon bears us all away:
We fly, forgotten, as a dream
dies at the opening day.
Time flies; the river of life just keeps rolling along; we all pass away, sooner or (we hope) later. But we’re not forgotten, not really.
Our friend Charles Buxton may not have lived the most noteworthy life in the annals of Western civilization. Or the longest. He is, in some ways, an obscure figure. But here we are, in an obscure little church, far across the ocean from where he lived, quoting his words, a full century and a half after he uttered them. That may not be immortality, but it is significant.
“You will never ‘find’ time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.”
That quote isn’t up there with “To be or not to be, that is the question.” It’s not immemorial like “Fourscore and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation…”
But they’re good solid words for future generations to ponder. They present a good, straightforward encapsulation of the reality in which we human creatures of time and space exist: “You will never ‘find’ time for anything,” Buxton reminds us. “If you want time, you must make it.”
Our days upon this earth are (relatively speaking) few. The lives of any of us are but a tiny glimmer of light between two great eternities.
But we are not mere victims of time. We are not mere pawns of the gods. We are not just so much dust in the wind.
We are active agents with free will, who help to define the times in which we live; who leave each our own imprint upon the sands of our times..
Time itself inherently exists on two different levels: the chronological and the qualitative. But the qualitative only exists within the chronological. “Quality time”—in our homes, in our families, in our church—only exists because we choose to commit to doing things which enhance our being together, which deepen it, and strengthen it, and keep it alive. Those aspects of life to which we commit our time (our care) flourish and grow; those to which we do not wither away and “fly, forgotten as a dream”. It really is that simple.
They say that the ancient Mayans saw each and every separate day as a different god. Maybe if we, too, treated each day as a god—or each day as God’s re-creation of the world anew-- we’d be less likely to take it for granted. Or if we treated each day as a brand new monument we were working on—a living monument to mark each day and its achievements so that all who saw it would remember the great things we did together. Or, each day as an ornate fountain—intricately carved, and cascading always with waters of righteousness and peace and love. A timeless memorial to the wondrous times we are making, together, in this place, and on this earth.