Take Time while Time doth Last

It’s a common complaint that comes with age – time seems to speed up and the days, months and years pass with alarming rapidity. The sixteenth century composer John Farmer, a key figure in the English Madrigal School set to music these words:

Take time, while time doth last
Mark how fair fadeth fast
Beware if envy reign:
Take heed of proud disdain;
Hold fast, now in thy youth
Regard thy vowed truth;
Lest when thou waxeth old
Friends fail and love grow cold

The verse makes us aware of the dangers of taking time for granted, of continually chasing after the next exciting thing without appreciating what is happening in the present. Farmer expresses what has become a modern cry – we all need to slow down and enjoy the present moment.

An egg timer reminds us that time is always chasing us
Time always seems to be chasing us…

For life to function effectively we have had to find ways of measuring time. In his article ‘The Benefits of Taking Your Time’ Barry Boyce writes:

‘The clock, the calendar, the days of the week—it’s easy to forget that these are all human inventions. It’s also very hard to imagine a world without them, which is clearly why they were invented and why they’ve served the world so well. It certainly makes it easier to make an appointment to meet up for coffee in two weeks.’
An alarm clock keeps us on time
Make time work rather than dictate

But we also need to to manage time effectively…otherwise we can become overwhelmed.

Too many demands on time can lead to burn-out.
The danger that time can overwhelm us…

The COVID-19 pandemic threw our regular routines into chaos. But suddenly we were treating time differently. Some found more time for leisure – an isolated walk in the fresh air; time to bake a loaf of sourdough bread; time to decorate a room or read a book…

With extra time during lockdown many folk wee able to bake their own bread.
Baking the perfect loaf takes time.

Others found increased pressure – working from home in cramped conditions; the lack of social interaction; challenges of simply getting the groceries or caring for loved ones. Time played strange tricks on what had become straightforward routines and schedules. With the end of lockdown some suffered from burnout whilst others found difficulty adjusting to a return to work.

The COVID19 lock-down brought confusion and stress to many.
Lock-down caused a lot of mental anguish

Midwife Nancy Bardacke, in her work with expectant couples, introduced them to the idea of ‘horticultural time’ which follows nature’s clocks: all the different timescales that govern the natural world. Keen gardeners will be familiar with this. You cannot will a plant to grow faster. It grows at the rate it grows. I have a paeony growing in my garden that has not flowered in the fifteen years since it was first planted. Every year I threaten to dig it up. But then – oh joy! This spring it shows signs of displaying one glorious, fragrant bloom.

A paeony flowers after a long wait.
After fifteen years this paeony bloomed at last!

There are stories of thatched cottages which, when the thatch is replaced, shed seeds that have lain dormant for years. Scattered into the earth at last it’s as though they are kick-started into growth. Completely unexpected plants germinate, flourish and produce an abundance of unexpected blooms. The seeds provide fruit when they’re ready.

Long-dormant seeds provide flowers eventually...
Patience rewarded with unexpected blooms

It’s similar with babies: They come when they’re ready. ‘And just the same,’ Nancy comments, ‘once the baby is born, it will wreak havoc with clock time. It’s hungry when it’s hungry. It’s sleepy when it’s sleepy.’ New parents soon learn that they need to accept and go along with the rhythms of horticultural time. Ultimately it serves both parents and baby well.

Babies have their own timescale...
Sleeping baby: relieved parent

So we need to be careful how we handle time. We cannot stop the clock but we can learn to manage our time, to enjoy it and to benefit from the unexpected benefits it can bestow.

Time managed well can bring peace, prosperity and happiness.
Happy Hour!