On a recent Friday, I made a comment to a friend that the whole week had felt like Monday. I meant that all of the days of the week had been hectic, and that the typically comfortable rhythms of the work week had never quite developed. The underlying principle of this column, "Taking the Time to Make a Difference," is that we can take some control over at least a portion of our time, and use those hours or minutes to do something for the good of family or society. On that Friday, I felt that the demands of work and other commitments had taken over, and that all of my time had been controlled by outside forces. I have to admit to a certain amount of self-pity for having those thoughts on that recent Friday. Poor me. Busy life. And so on and so on. Now, another week has begun and again it seems as if Monday is lasting way too long. But this week, with the grace and benefit of some moments devoted to thoughtful reflection, some more realistic observations have floated to the surface of my consciousness. My first observation is that I have no real idea of what it must be like for millions of other people the ones who have a lot less control than I do over those outside forces. I recently learned about a summer camping program that connects families from somewhat comfortable circumstances with families from the inner city. Spending a week together, the families learn a lot about each other. They find out that, despite their vastly different social and economic conditions, they do have a lot in common. During their week together, the families also find out some of the ways in which their lives are different. Inner city families, for example, need some adjustment to the relaxed nature of a family camping weekend it is hard for parents to let go of the need to keep the kids inside and safe. In some cases, they have never experienced life where kids could go outside and play without constant adult supervision for safety's sake. Life is changing, I know, and the level of safety is much less than it used to be when I was growing up, even in small towns in the Midwest. But even with the growing perception that the world can be a dangerous place, I know that I have no real experience of that fear when I compare my life to the life of a family in the biggest cities of America. And looking beyond our own borders, I know so little of what life is like in crowded slums with no clean water, little food, and a lot of sickness. Such are the real circumstances of millions of families. My "Monday" pressures fade away but not before another necessary observation. Before we can take the time to make a difference, we have to take the time to get above or beyond the ruts of everyday life, to reflect and think and observe more clearly on the conditions of the world around us.
* * *
Jesus took the time to go into the desert, away from the crowds. That's a good example for us, too. Time away is something we can give ourselves and our families. Time away would be a wonderful gift to another family, too.
* * *
If you find yourself with a week-long Monday, take the time to celebrate a Sunday. Take a critical look at the calendar blur of work, school, sports, enriching activities, and volunteer commitments. Give yourself, and your children, some time to think and reflect. Work with your church community or a civic organization to help at least one other family to have a time of tranquility and peace. Give a "care-giver" a "care-free" afternoon or evening. You can make a difference.
Send your comments about "Taking Time to Make a Difference" to Paul Leingang. Contact the CFM USA Office about subscribing for your newspaper.
Back to Taking Time to Make a Difference Index
Back to CFM Home Page