- There is not enough time in the day. Do you ever feel like that? I certainly do. I wake up very early, typically before 5 a.m. I usually go to bed by 9 or 10- thatʼs a 16-hour day.
One would think that I could get to everything on my “to do” list in 16 hours. But inevitably, there are things left over which take weeks, months and sometimes even years to accomplish. I have projects in my house that I have been meaning to get to for a long time. When I finally do them, I find that they didnʼt take even half the time to accomplish that I spent worrying over them.
A few weeks ago, I took Johanna to Cape May Point, to the teen retreat at the Marianist Retreat House. We have been going to this retreat house for the last five years. My twenty year old daughter brought us there when she was 15. Itʼs a beautiful house just a block from water. From anywhere in or outside the house you can hear the ocean waves crashing on the shore. Since we first attended a week long family retreat, Johanna has been attending the teen retreats twice a year. While the retreats follow a different theme each time, there are certain activities that are common to each weekend. One of those activities is an artistic craft and drawings on Saturday afternoon. After recreation, the teens have time to reflect on the messages of the retreat and to receive more of Godʼs love through forgiveness and reconciliation. As I was cooking in the kitchen, I peeked out and saw Johanna at the dining room with a piece of poster paper and markers. She was busy coloring in the drawings on her poster. I decided to sneak out to say hello. It was amazing how the dining area was transformed into a place of silence and meditative creativity. Teens were scattered around the tables, silently constructive their contemplative craft. God was present in the art.
I kissed Johanna on the head, as I sat down next to her. She looked into my eyes with that knowing glance and smiled. Then she pointed to her beautiful creation. Johanna has an uncanny ability to speak volumes through songs and through pictures. When she sings, you have to take the time to listen to what she is trying to say.
Likewise when she draws. Johannaʼs pictures are simple drawings, but frequently, in those squiggly lines and colorful rainbows, there lies a deeper meaning.
On the top of the poster, she drew a large cross with a purple sash, which she knows signifies the risen Christ. To the left side, there was an hour glass with a heart on the bottom and a beautiful rainbow with the sun peaking out. Then, beneath the cross she drew a very large analog clock. I asked her to explain her picture to me and she looked like at me with this puzzled 17 year old sceptic look that said, “Really?”
Then she proceded to unpack the drawing for me. The rainbow was easy. Itʼs a sign of Godʼs covenant of love to his people. I got that. But the hour glass and the clock kind of stumped me. Realizing this, Johanna spoke slowly and clearly to me as she said, “Mom, I donʼt know how much time I have left. So I am giving my time and my heart to the Lord, at the foot of the cross.” Then she added, “But really, nobody knows how much time they have left. Everybody should give their time and their hearts to the Lord.”
I smiled at her and gave her a hug. Then I noticed that the clock had a big and little hand. I asked her, “Johanna, do you know what time it says on the clock?” She shrugged her shoulders and again gave me that teenage look. “Mom, I donʼt know how to read time”. The hands on Joʼs clock were in the 3ʼo clock position; the hour that Jesus died, the hour of Divine Mercy.
I kissed my little saint on the head and laughed. My husband and I are the ones with degrees in theology. Iʼve learned more about God from raising this kid for 17 years, than I ever did from any theology course or book.
Johannaʼs right. None of us knows how much time we have left. All that matters is today. If we knew we werenʼt going to be here tomorrow, would we spend so much time checking emails and Facebook? Would we worry about the past and the future if we knew we only had today or would we offer this time back to God and spend our present moments being attentive to those we love? My time is well spent listening to my daughter. I will take her advice and give my heart and my time to the Lord, grateful for the gift of the present moment.
Eileen Benthalis a writer, speaker and wellness coach with a B.A. in Theology from Franciscan University. She and her husband Steve live in Jamesport and have four young adult children. Their youngest, Johanna, is a teenager with special needs. Eileen can be reached atFreeIndeedFreelance.com.