What might be considered our most prized possession? If you were forced to evacuate your home, what would you take with you? Many people might answer “photographs”, especially if you are of a generation that printed photographs and carefully placed them into albums. With the advent of Smartphones, we have the benefit of portability, and are able to share quickly a photograph with anyone, as long as the phone has enough memory to do so.
I would like to suggest that we each possess something much more valuable, and too often do not realize how valuable this commodity is until it is too late. The answer is “time.” No matter our status in life, we are all given time, a precious gift allotted to us from the day we are born. The deposit is of a finite amount, although only God will know the exact balance available at any moment. It comes with one basic instruction: use it wisely. As each second ticks away, our balance decreases. While it is certainly possible with the increased skills of physicians to deposit more time, that possibility cannot preclude us from using out portion to the best of our ability.
I came to be reminded of the value of time the day before my father died. He had rallied and we were able to spend a fair portion of the day in ongoing conversations, and I will value that gift for the rest of my days, grateful for the time he and I could spend together. Here today, gone tomorrow. That will be the fate of all of us.
The challenge for each of us is to invest our time wisely, to be able to reap untold dividends. Perhaps it might be in some way that you give of your time to others, with the appreciative smile and thank you a reward that can be so fulfilling as you made the day a better one for that person(s) or organization. Perhaps it was catching up with a friend or family member that you have spoken with in some time, strengthening the bonds immeasurably. Perhaps it is attending a daily minyan or Shabbat service, talking to God and refreshing your soul. The possibilities are infinite, but the clock is not. It is that clock that the alligator in Peter Pan swallowed, always chasing after Captain Hook, the menacing tick-tock reminding him that time is fleeting.
There is a lovely phrase at the end of the Misheberach that I have recited in services for someone celebrating a birthday that reads as follows:
In celebrating this and other birthdays, may _______’s example remind us that people may count the days of their life, but a person of wisdom makes every day count. May we all be privileged to be looked upon as people of wisdom, using our bank of time wisely.