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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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It's about time

You can learn how to have more

If you made New Year's (or New Millennium's) resolutions, at least one of them probably deals with time. Most of us feel we have too little of it, especially to spend on what matters most. Of course, we get ourselves into these situations — and then often feel it's nearly impossible to get out.

Our sense of time has become even more confused and jagged in the Internet age, as we're able to work and communicate with people worldwide at any time of day or night.

A recent book approaches this topic from a faith perspective. It offers a creative and helpful way to think about time while providing suggestions for what we can actually do about it. Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time is by Dorothy C. Bass (Jossey-Bass, 2000; cloth, $20). Bass, who teaches at Valparaiso [Ind.] University, directs the Education and Formation of People in Faith project, which recovers and creates Christian practices that bring wholeness to our lives.

Bass' book is both theological and practical. She recommends specific steps for recovering the true meaning of time, all of which she bases on scriptural and liturgical traditions. She tells personal stories to illustrate how one may really make it happen. For example, Bass relates how she and her family recapture the time of the children's baptisms by repeating rituals every year that include lighting candles, sharing a special meal and singing.

She talks about nightly "letting go of the day, including its slights and its sins" so that one's energy is freed up to meet the next day. Perhaps the most essential practice she recommends is a very traditional way of keeping sabbath that excludes such activities as shopping or watching television (the latter she deplores altogether as creating an entirely false sense of time). She deals with various revolutions of time: the rhythm of a day, a year, a lifetime. Just reading the book is a calming experience.

A new year, a new millennium, new possibilities. Do yourself a favor and take the time to read this book.


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