Sunday, February 12, 2012

Time in a Bottle

Chris, Me, Mom, Dad, Carol--Vintage 1971
I came of age in the early seventies, when flower power and polyester suits were in and the Viet Nam war was out, when Weight Watchers and microwaves had just come on the scene, and some say rock and roll was in its prime.
Ever the dreamer, I often curled up alone, losing myself in the ballads of singers like Joan Baez and Linda Ronstadt and Jim Croce, a hard luck guitarist who died well before his time. One of the last songs this troubadour recorded was a tribute to his newborn son, Adrian James, called Time in a Bottle, in which he wrote of yearning to save everyday till eternity passes away just to spend it with you.

College days
Wouldn't it be nice if we could bottle it?  Time, that is.   

I read recently about a man named Clive Wearing, who has the most profound case of amnesia ever documented. For him, every moment in time is suspended, isolated from all that has been, and all that might be.  He has no past to savor, no future for which to prepare.  Over and over again, he picks up the journal they've given him in which to record his experiences, and writes the same thing:  I've just woken up for the first time.

I haven't been able to get that phrase out of my mind.  What would it be like to know that this was the only moment I had? How would it be to encounter every experience as if I'd just woken up for the first time?  

The lovely canyon on my daily walk
I've thought about this at traffic lights and on morning walks.  I've considered it while cleaning bathrooms and studying statistics and cooking and eating and showering and folding the laundry. 
I've pondered long this idea of what it might mean to own only this moment. I've tried to plan days, pregnant with possibilities...and laid my head down, weary with regret in the shadow of night.  At what point in these hours past, did I begin to lose touch with the moment at hand?

The tragedy for Mr. Wearing is that once that moment is gone, he cannot enjoy the fruit of having cherished it.  He has no memory, none at all.  Memory comes like a rope, let down from heaven, to draw one out of the abyss of unbeing, wrote Proust.  

But it is this moment--the one that is here and now, the one that can feel like nothing or everything, the one that can explode with joy, or pierce with pain, or dull with monotony, or arrest with intrigue, or fill with frustration--that we have the capacity to remember.  And it is in clinging to this moment, the only one we ever own, that we make a memory.

Do you see it?  Memory is what draws us out of the abyss of unbeing, what makes us alive--even to the simple wonder that we breathe, and that this too is gift.

We embrace this moment, and store these memories, and we remember...and worship the Giver of life for what has been.  Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually.  Remember the wondrous works that He has done...1 Chronicles 7:11-12

We remember...until we see His hand, His goodness, His faithfulness...and this moment begins to matter more than all the others past.  This is what it means to be.

Engagement picture--1974

Jim Croce's song Time in a Bottle became a huge hit two years after he died, the same year that a young couple named Bill and Gloria Gaither came on the music scene, releasing their own song about time.  We have this moment to hold in our hands and to touch, as it slips through our fingers like sand.  Yesterday’s gone and tomorrow may never come, but we have this moment today.

And so it is.  And because of who He is, so it will always be.


My Journey:  I am calling my focus this year "a return to God-centeredness,"  which means a return to the one thing that sets everything aright, that guarantees my good and His glory.  It truly is because of who He is that I start afresh each day of 2012. 

Practically, I am engaging in lectio divina through the Psalms, each day asking the question:  What does this tell me about You, Lord? 

Some tools for embracing God's Word:

Reflective reading--click here
Meditation--click here
Scripture study using the online program Studylight--click here

I am also going to try to memorize 1 Peter.  If you'd like to join me, I will be providing memory cards each month.  Click here for the first two sets--Each one is about 9-10 verses! For tips on how to memorize Scripture, click here.


  1. Deep thoughts to consider. I enjoyed the pictures which were of a lighter note. Vicki

    P.S. I have no idea how to choose any of the publish choices except anonymously.

  2. I went to a musical today centered in the music of the fiftys. One of the songs was 'Good Night Sweetheart'
    the last words my husband said to me, sang to me before he took the Lord's hand and went home. A dear friend who has journied with me, leaned over and asked if I was ok. I answered,"couldn't be better" she smiled. And I smiled and quietly praised the LOrd for the sweetest of memories, and the Joy in the moment of remembering, Truly, because of who He is...I remember His wonderous works.