Gaining a day


This year leap day happens on a Monday in an election year.  Because of course it does. (Actually, it’s always in an election year. Whose bright ideas was that?) Still, we get an extra day, right? Woo-hoo! Party time! Let’s blow off work and head to the (insert favorite place to loaf)! But alas, the calendar can only mark time, it can’t allot it. We have X number of days on this earth, whether we call some February 29 or March 1 or some other day entirely. Dangit. I want more time for me!

From my C.S. Lewis Daily reading this morning (which you can subscribe to here), a selection from The Screwtape Letters:

Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury. And the sense of injury depends on the feeling that a legitimate claim has been denied. The more claims on life, therefore, that your patient can be induced to make, the more often he will feel injured and, as a result, ill-tempered. Now you will have noticed that nothing throws him into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him. It is the unexpected visitor (when he looked forward to a quiet evening), or the friend’s talkative wife (turning up when he looked forward to a tête-à-tête with the friend), that throw him out of gear. Now he is not yet so uncharitable or slothful that these small demands on his courtesy are in themselves too much for it. They anger him because he regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen. You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption ‘My time is my own’. Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours. Let him feel as a grievous tax that portion of this property which he has to make over to his employers, and as a generous donation that further portion which he allows to religious duties. But what he must never be permitted to doubt is that the total from which these deductions have been made was, in some mysterious sense, his own personal birthright.

I also listened to Lewis’s essay, “Learning in Wartime” from The Weight of Glory* this morning, which was on a similar theme, namely: how ought the Christian use his time, especially in times of crisis?  Lewis is specifically addressing the scholar, but I think it applies to everyone in any type of work.  Speaking during World War II, he notes that war doesn’t bring a new experience to us — that is death is the fate of all men — but it does cause us to remember death. He notes,
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If we had foolish un-Christian hopes about human culture, they are now shattered. If we thought we were building up a heaven on earth, we looked for something that would turn the present world from a place of pilgramage into a permaent city satisfying the soul of man, we are disillusioned, and not a moment too soon. But if we thought that for some souls, and at some times, the life of learning, humbly offered to God, was, in its own small way, one of the appointed approaches to the Divine reality and the Divine beauty which we hope to enjoy hereafter, we can think so still.

I think “the life of learning” can be extended to the life of homeschooling or the life of creating or the life of producing or whatever your vocation may be. Likewise, wartime can be any time: times of peace, times of prosperity, times of instability, times of hardship. For Christians, our time is not our own and our vocations are not our own but we are stewards of them for the glory of God and in the light of eternity. We should always be aware of the times and the seasons and act accordingly, with such wisdom as God grants us. We should also do our daily work, tend our gardens, and build our families and communities.

In the light of all that, what will I do with “my” extra day? Maybe we’ll celebrate the day with a little “extra.” Ice cream, anyone? But honestly, I’ll do the same thing I do with my other days. We’ll do school and chores and work and read. Hopefully, I’ll do these remembering that my days are not my own and I am to do all things — on all days — to the glory of God.

*As of today, The Weight of Glory is $6.95 on Audible, which is a great deal!

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