Parish of St Matthew the Apostle,
Douglas, Isle of Man

Father Tom ponders …… The clock is ticking!

Dear Friends

Over the past few months I have been surprised at how many people no longer have a wrist watch. The majority now rely on their mobile ‘phone for telling the time and what date it is. Yet for me, I feel uncomfortable if I haven’t put my watch on and everything seems to come to a standstill when I have. I would add at this point that as I have been asked if I wear my clerical collar in bed, the answer is ‘no’ nor do I wear my wrist watch in bed. Whether we like it or not, our lives are governed by the time and the date.

October always seems to focus my mind on asking ‘what time is it?’ It is the month when we prepare to celebrate our Harvest Festival – always were poignant in rural areas, but a bit lost on me in towns and cities – because soon after the clocks will change for the winter months; long days of light become shorter and the nights longer. Soon the horse trams will stop and by November the electric trams and the steam trains. By then, the tourists will have stopped apart from those coming for ‘Turkey and tinsel’ trips. More noticeably, the cold and the grey begin.

When I was a child time seemed to go on and on. Now I am an adult I feel as though I have no longer begun one week than I am half way through another. Some would argue it is the society we live in; always on the move. Others would argue it has always been like that. Many will say ‘time flies’ the older you get.

Since a very early age I have always kept a diary. I don’t write about the sort of day I have had, but it marks the times when I have been to

see someone, taken a funeral, been to a meeting and so on. What it also tells me is when I am to say my prayers and go to Mass. Some find it very strange – especially some clergy – when trying to make an appointment to see me or arrange a meeting I reply with, ‘I can’t make that time I am saying my prayers, or I am saying Mass.’  I believe it is vitally important that I make as much time for prayer and attending Mass as I do with my professional and social life. When I was baptised God became the centre of my life and not the complexities of everyday life.

Before long the temperature will begin to drop, the leaves will change from dark green to reds and golds and we will be preparing for winter. This autumn I would like to invite you to think about how much time you allow yourself to be in the presence of God through specific periods of prayer and to perhaps put those times in your diary.

Most of our days are governed by time: when to get up, eat, feed the dog or cat, go shopping, and go to bed. Let us together make a date and time with God each day. Why not be an oddity with me in this secular world by responding to people with, ‘Sorry, I can’t make that. I am going to spend time with God.’ The first time you do that will be your liberation from the things of this world to your breaking in to the realities of the kingdom of God.

With prayer and best wishes,