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Charles Lewis: There comes a time when the clock won’t be our master

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  • May 19, 2021

I read somewhere years ago that one of the great sources of human anxiety is time. Time is too slow or too fast or there is not enough of it. We live on schedules and deadlines that seem to push us harder than we would like or is even healthy.

When we take a break it is to take a break from being ruled by the clock until the clock tells us that the break is over.

Then there is that little voice in our heads that affirms and reaffirms that no one has unlimited time. Death will come for us all. We all run out of time.

When we were young and felt at the height of our powers, time was irrelevant. We thought we would live forever.

There is a reason the men and women we send to fight in wars are almost always young. They feel invincible. They believe time will never run out. Who else would rush headlong into battle?

These thoughts have been roiling in my head over the past few months for a bunch of reasons.

First, the most obvious, I was told I have incurable cancer in February and was given radiation a few weeks later in an attempt to slow down its deadliness. While it remains incurable I found out after a recent CT scan that cancer has been beaten back … for now. It is a welcome reprieve. Even as I write these words it seems unreal or I am writing about someone else. I am praying for more years rather than more months.

Then in the past few weeks I heard of three people I knew who died of COVID-19. One was an old neighbour in Quebec, the other a former colleague at The Ottawa Citizen and the other a sweet guy who worked at my barbershop.

All had taken precautions but had yet to receive the vaccine, even though all were older than 70. It was too late; they ran out of time.

Then I began to think about where the dead are. I hope in Heaven but then I began to think about what would make Heaven so special.

Of course, it is the beatific vision, the Holy Trinity embracing us with a love we cannot imagine.

But there is something else that gives me great comfort. In Heaven, with God, there is no time. Time is a creation of God just like the ground we walk on and the beautiful sky above.

It is an idea that most of us cannot imagine as we are so enmeshed in the web of time. Maybe Albert Einstein could get close but the rest of us mortals remain flummoxed.

Some will say, those who meditate, that one way of sensing this is to be in the “now.” Even to say that, though, is to acknowledge time. And the “now” itself is a moving target. We live by the clock or at least the calendar. It is our master. It cannot be stopped.

So to Heaven: The “now” is all there will be. We will never be in a hurry or think that if we do not hurry up we will miss “it” —whatever “it” might be.

I also read about this other notion. Because there is no time we may meet up with the souls of those who have died centuries ago or yesterday and it will seem as if we were always together. I am still not sure I get this entirely but I sense it is true.

The peace we will feel, I believe, will in part be because the pressure will be off.

I have spent roughly 40 years writing and each time the driver is the clock. I have gotten used to it and what I do now is not the same as filing two stories a day at a newspaper with an editor breathing down my neck.

Now, I have more time. Still, time is my master…for now.

(Lewis is a Toronto writer and regular contributor to The Register.)

Comments (1)

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Dear Mr. Lewis, I just discovered your writing a 2 weeks ago, so my comment might be a little selfish but I think your voice is too important to let cancer silence it. You have compassion and care that sometimes can seem like it is in short...

Dear Mr. Lewis, I just discovered your writing a 2 weeks ago, so my comment might be a little selfish but I think your voice is too important to let cancer silence it. You have compassion and care that sometimes can seem like it is in short supply in our society. Thank you for sharing.

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