The Gift of Time

Sermons and Articles

The Gift of Time
By Rabbi Lynnda Targan

“A season is set for everything; a time for
every experience under heaven…”
Ecclesiastes

The New Year, like most New Year’s celebrations I remember, flash by like a meteoric comet fallen to sea. All that’s left is a couple of crumpled party hats and a fleeting reminder that another twelve months of life has come and gone with barely a whisper. It’s back to business as usual. Busyness as usual. Always doing. Not enough time being. Not enough time sharing.

Time–the elusive robber baron of our existence. The most precious and coveted gift we’re allotted during our earthly journey. But do we value it enough? We seem instead to treat it badly, by spending it, wasting it, losing it and even killing it. Yet we long for more and more time. Quality time. We attempt to take it, juggle it and save it. Nevertheless, time on its own hectic schedule, just flies. And before we know it, time is gone.

Years ago, my sister cleaned out my bulging closet as a birthday present. “I didn’t know what to buy you,” she declared, “so I’m giving you ‘the gift of time.’” It was a great time, working together, laughing at the junk I had accumulated and allowed to clutter up my closet, purging the disorganization I had no time to address. And in the end it wasn’t about cleaning the closet, though that, too, was a great gift. It was about creating sacred time with someone I loved and turning that time together into a memory, which would last a lifetime.

Since then, I’ve compiled a list of ways people can offer the gift of time to one another based on both my personal observations, and on suggestions others have made. A sampling of these ideas follow:

1. Contract to clean a room, a closet, a drawer. Then make the time to do it together.
2. Volunteer to recopy an address book or type the contacts into a PDA device.
3. Put pictures from a trip or special events into photo albums.
4. Make a date to exercise together. Trek to the gym. Play tennis. Take a hike in the mountains. Go bicycling on a scenic ride. Walk along the beach.
5. Meet for cappuccino and enjoy the fine art of conversation.
6. Plan a short retreat at an inn or health spa.
7. Invite a friend and her family for Shabbat or holiday dinner.
8. Have a leisurely picnic in the park.
9. Mentor another person into professional life by helping to write a resume or assist in networking.
10. Establish a salon that meets periodically to share ideas.
11. Volunteer together on a worthy community project.
12. Plan a trip together and spend time coordinating details.
13. Organize a “winter blues renewal day.” Go to the botanical gardens for a splash of color and the promise of spring.
14. Sign up jointly for a course or seminar.
15. Establish a book club.
16. Visit a museum together and let the art inspire and uplift.
17. Take a bottle of wine to a beautiful venue and share a sunset in solitude.
18. Plant an herb garden and share responsibility for its cultivation. Use the garden as a metaphor for the continuing nurturing of the relationship.

Life is short and transitory. In a single, chilling instant a world can turn topsy-turvey. Making moments count is our daily challenge. Sharing is symbiotic. When we reach out to others we love, in the spirit of loving and giving to one another, we grow. When we share time, ideas flow. With the “gift of time” the ordinary is transformed into extraordinary, the unremarkable becomes memorable.

Memories are all we’ll ever have as the sand runs out in the hourglass. The gift of time. It’s the only gift we preserve by giving it away. The only gift that keeps on giving–even after we depart…