Time in a Bottle

[Written last December, sat in my drafts, sent out today]

Oh, how precious time is! Blessed are those who know how to make good use of it. Oh, if only all could understand how precious time is, undoubtedly everyone would do his best to spend it in a praiseworthy manner! — Padre Pio

I woke up with a start at 3:30 a.m. with the Jim Croce song, Time in a Bottle, playing in my head. It was startling, first of all because I had not thought of the song in years, and second of all because it sounded like it was playing in my ears when I woke up.

The day before I had spent the whole day with my wife, Patti, and all four of our children (at once!), which is very rare these days. We went to a movie, ate out, and later at home told funny family stories and looked at old pictures until after midnight. As the day ended, I was filled with overflowing gratitude for this fleeting taste of what I once took for granted. Before Patti and I went to bed, I pulled up the nuptial blessing that was prayed over us by Bishop Smith on our wedding day and shared this last part with her:

May they be blessed with children,
and prove themselves virtuous parents,
who live to see their children’s children.
And grant that,
reaching at last together the fullness of years
for which they hope,
they may come to the life of the blessed
in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Through Christ our Lord.

I told Patti how sad time’s relentless passage was, and she countered with a Dr. Seuss quote — “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” I went to sleep struggling to gratefully offer to God, and not rue, the passing of life into memory.

So as I laid awake at 3:30 a.m. recalling the song’s lyrics, it all suddenly made sense why this particular song had come to mind in my sleep. When I was young, I always grieved the passing of happy times and fantasized about time travel so I could return and re-live good times again. I just knew I would appreciate them more next time around! I also used to daydream, when I was in my teens, about singing this song to my future wife. And now this song had come to embrace my children as well, who have come to re-define life’s meaning for me.

I wrote on a piece of paper next to my bed,

God became human to ensure that nothing in time consecrated by love is lost in eternity, and — even more! — allowed His own immutable eternity to be enriched by time, consecrated and taken up into Himself. And He who is love even takes up into Himself the loveless, drowns it in His mercy and raises it with glorious wounds. The God who IS, became. Became all things for us, to seek and save what was lost. John 1:14 touches all of time, touched yesterday.

I fell back asleep and dreamed about walking along a backwoods path in Iowa where the kids and I, back in 2008, would go on a ‘secret adventure’ early every Saturday morning. When I woke up again, I prayed my morning Suscipe and listened to the song…

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding, and my entire will,
all that I have and possess. Thou hast given all to me.
To Thee, O Lord, I return it.
All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will.
Give me Thy love and Thy grace, for this is sufficient for me.

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day till eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I’d save every day like a treasure and then
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do, once you find them
I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go through time with

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty, except for the memory of how
They were answered by you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do, once you find them
I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go through time with

4 comments on “Time in a Bottle

  1. Nos. says:

    Sage Thomas,you’re a gem as are the incomparable Patricia and all the KNEEL babies.Our GOOD GOD uses you well. . . Thank you so Padre Pio. . . P.B.W.Y.A.A.

    Love the jew . . .

  2. Jennifer says:

    This post on time and yesterday’s on words speak to me of the same thing: your profound appreciation of the utter giftedness of all we experience and the recognition that all we can do is to respond rightly. Beautiful, reverent, profoundly moving.

  3. Steve Pyle says:

    Hello, Tom. This is from Steve Pyle, back in Des Moines, St. Augustin Parish.

    Would you be willing to send me the entire nuptial blessing that you referenced by Bishop Smith?

    One of my daughters is getting married late December and I’ve been thinking that, as her father, I’d like to say a blessing to the newlyweds.

    Much appreciated and may Our Lord bless you for you thoughtful blogs.

    -Steve Pyle

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