Things did not begin auspiciously for me on Day One of our recent ACTS retreat.
As co-director, one of my primary roles is that of timekeeper – making sure that our activity-filled days stay more or less on schedule. It’s a demanding task: There are roughly 160 discrete time slot “targets” to manage over the course of three-and-a-half days…so – even with the able assistance of my teammate, the Bell Ringer – I found it difficult not to get a bit caught up in the details.
Take Day One, for instance. We got up early…but still wound up being late for breakfast. 45 minutes late. And since that’s the first meal of day, it had an inevitable ripple effect on everything else we had planned for the morning.
Shifting into full-bore Timekeeper mode, I looked for ways to trim here…and shorten there. And we made progress. By lunchtime, we were close to getting back on track. Close…but not quite there: We missed the mark only by 15 minutes or so.
I knew, in the heart of my Timekeeper’s heart, that we could close that gap. And I was bound and determined to make it happen over the course of the afternoon.
So: more trimming. More tucking. More hustling and herding. And sure enough, we made it: By the dinner hour on Day One, our time deficit had been completely erased.
That’s when the kitchen staff informed me the meatloaf wasn’t quite ready. It would need to remain in the oven for at least another 15 minutes.
It was about then that a different sort of realization dawned: How breathtakingly presumptuous it is for me to think of myself as Timekeeper. On an ACTS retreat, surely – despite our intricate planning, the Weekends always seem to unfold on God’s schedule…at the Holy Spirit’s pace.
But actually, it’s rather presumptuous to think of Time as ‘mine’ on any given day. On any day that God gives me. My wife Gerri and I admit as much when recite our morning prayer together:
Loving God, Creator God, we declare our dependency upon You for each heartbeat, each breath of our lives…
Three or four years now, we’ve been saying this prayer together before heading out the door each day. But only this past weekend did the ‘Timekeeper’ in me finally begin to recognize how much he still craves ‘clock control.’
Better, perhaps, to be like the servants we hear about in today’s Gospel reading from Matthew…those who
await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.