A song written by Henry Work and made famous by Johnny Cash speaks to us about the mystery of time. We are fascinated by the myth of time – a process of measuring. We love to measure our own life time from the day of our birth until the day of death, recognizing that everything has a beginning and a time. We look around at our lifetime and examine the progress of history. What do we remember? Who do we remember that entered our consciousness at particular moments? We measure seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, and generations. The song remembers the passing of a life through the fog of time.

“My grandfathers clock was too large for the shelf

So it stood ninety years on the floor

It was taller by half than the old man himself

Though it weighed not a penny-weight more.

It was taller by half than the old man himself

Though it weighed not a penny-weight more.

It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born

And was always his treasure and pride

But it stopped short never to go again 

When the old man died.

Ninety years without slumbering

His life seconds numbering

It stopped short never to go again

When the old man died.”

We like to measure – to count – to have some sense of control and comparison. We are curious in our struggle to survive and to count – to have meaning. As we look at obituaries and tombstones, we see a year of birth and a year of death. What we fail to see is the in depth, second by second reality of the experiences that formed a person – the whole person. When we read our history books, we see the names of certain significant actors on the stage of human life, but we do not see the millions upon millions who remain anonymous – Events and persons come and go, each leaving their mark. We are part of them and they are part of us. We have created in our imaginations a sense of time that allows us to define the human journey both as individuals, but more, as the ongoing creation or transformation of life itself. We are part of that journey. In some ways, when we die, our own particular clock stops; but the larger parade continues to march down the avenue, shouting and waving, saying – “Look at me” – Look at us!” We are alive and the ghosts of the past walk with us reminding us that we are connected. We are part of them as they are part of us and that death is an illusion. Life overcomes death and the light overcomes the darkness.

I remember a very large and inclusive family where all struggled to welcome the strangers into their midst. I remember gatherings of story telling – reminders of the past; and wonderful food that stirred up more memories and a strong sense of community. I remember the long good-byes, anticipating the next time that we would be gathering. I remember stories of people and experiences that were part of the shared memory while at the same time, welcoming the new-comers; the new in-laws and the new babies; life renewing itself.

This is the Eucharist; a gathering of the family, sharing stories and a meal, and going out refreshed and healed, with the courage and trust to continue the journey. The word Eucharist is translated Thanksgiving – and we leave grateful for the time together. We are reminded that time is a way of measuring a journey – a journey made real through relationships. In this journey, we begin to explore our small world, and then our world filled with others, past, present and future, and finally, in all of this we find the presence of God, reminding us that we are connected.  Time exists in our imaginations; time lives in a bottle and we love to pour a drink from that bottle once in awhile to lift a toast to Life.









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