Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Length of Days

Yesterday was a long day. It was supposed to be a relatively light one, with office work, the book group, and then a break before Vacation Bible School.

But an elderly parent of a parishioner was taken seriously ill, so I went off to the hospital to visit, pray, comfort, anoint, and listen to stories. This kind of work is always holy ground, and I love it, but it's intense.

So what was supposed to be a gently work day with two four-hour blocks of activity turned into a twelve hour one.

Not complaining, mind you. I love this work (yes, Mary, say it a few more times like you really didn't mind the long day) and I am glad that I can be helpful. But it was still a long day, made longer because I started a little house project later than I should have, not getting down from the ladder until 11 pm. Foolish me, but it looked good when I was done.

It was quite dark when I went upstairs. No stars to be seen because of the overcast, just a mix of navy and charcoal in the night sky.

So very different from Ireland, where the sun set at 11 pm. We hiked the first night until 10 pm with no problem - the light only started to fade a bit when we got to the road.

And it rose in the morning at about 5:30 am, so the days were long.

We humanoids (to use John O'Donohue's delightful and scripturally accurate word) like to try to tame time by creating systems to measure it. Time, however, defies us and this silliness. Thus we end up with places with very long days or very long nights, seasons when the shift in "official" numerical time is nothing but torment for our circadian rhythms, days when eighteen hours of light is insufficient for the joys that fill them, nights when sixteen hours of dark is a painful neverending abyss.

We do not get to choose the measure of time, as my elderly parishioners often remind me. It evades our attempts to regulate it. As I get older, I sleep less at night, require naps in the afternoon, and wish the days wouldn't go by so quickly. Sometimes I wish the nights weren't so long. I have, however, given up on trying to control it. I simply am grateful for the time, however it is measured, and the glimmers of joy therein.

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