It's about Time

I’ve been thinking about time lately. So today I’d like to share with you some random thoughts about time—if you’ve got time!

Time is difficult to define. Here’s one definition: Time is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in an apparent succession from the past, through the present, to the future.” Got that?

(Photo by Andrea Pialquadio, Pexels)

From early on, humans have devised ways to measure time. The earliest known calendar, discovered in Scotland, dates back 10,000 years. It is a lunar calendar as many early calendars were. It was Julius Caesar who put the Roman Empire on a solar calendar. He added two months to an already existing ten month calendar: July named after him and August named after his successor. (That’s why SEPTember is not the seventh month, OCT is not the eighth month, NOVember is not the ninth month, and DECember is not the tenth month.) Pope Gregory XIII tweaked that calendar and over the centuries the Gregorian calendar was adopted by numerous nations. Today that calendar is the most commonly used calendar in the world.

Here are some interesting facts (at least I think they are!) about time:

(Photo by Stas Knop, Pexels)

Time passes slower the closer you are to the center of the earth. On top of Mt. Everest, a year is 15 microseconds longer than at sea level.

A day is not 24 hours. It’s 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4.2 seconds. Hence, our need for a leap year (an extra day) every four years.

When dinosaurs roamed the earth, there were 370 days in a year. The earth’s spin is slowing down, so the days are shorter—by 1.7 milliseconds per century.

Humans have been creative at measuring time: sundials, water clocks, hour glasses, mechanical clocks (first invented by the Chinese). In 1522 Ferdinand Magellan had 18 hour glasses on each ship for his circumnavigation of the world.

The first alarm clock dates back to 250 BC in Greece. It was a water clock that set off a whistle.

(Photo by Iana Pugachova, Pexels)

Until the 19th Century, towns had their own time. For example, Bristol was 11 minutes behind London. It was the railroad companies that pushed for a standard time so people wouldn’t miss their trains.

In 1930, Joseph Stalin abolished the weekend in Russia in order to increase productivity. The week had only five days. (He was not keen on family togetherness or religious worship either.) The next year, the week had six days, one day of rest staggered throughout the community. But in 1940, the project was axed and Russia returned to the seven day week.

Let’s conclude today’s reflection with some quotations about time: The greatest possession you have is the 24 hours directly in front of you… How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. (Annie Dillard) The key is not spending time, but investing it. (Stephen Covey)

(Photo by FOX, Pexels)

There is only one thing more precious than our time and that’s who we spend it on. (Leo Christopher)… Time spent with cats is never wasted. (Colette)… Life isn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments. (Rose Kennedy)

Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time (Marthe Troly-Curtin)… Yesterday is a cancelled check: Forget it. Tomorrow is a promissory note: Don’t count on it. Today is ready cash: Use it! (Edwin Bliss)…

Perhaps our mantra for today could be: God of all time, thank you for this moment…

For reflection:

Do you wear a watch? Why or why not? How many clocks do you have in your house? Why?

For most events, are you ordinarily early, right on time, or late? Why do you think you are this way?

What kind of things do you “waste” your time on that you consider are NOT a waste of time?

Anything else in this reflection that you’d like to respond to?

PS: As you may have noticed, we had a problem with last week’s blog. But later in the week, Mike, one of our IT people, got it up and running again. Sorry for the inconvenience!

PS #2: I am typing this from my new office in the Notre Dame Educational Center. I am sitting amid a sea of banker boxes. Many are already empty. Others are awaiting decisive action. The Sisters here have been VERY welcoming! I thank them and I thank you for the support of your prayers during this big move in my life.

Our song is an “oldie but goodie.” It’s “In His Time” sung by the Maranatha Singers. I chose this version because of all the beautiful images. I hope you enjoy it!

Please feel free to respond below to this reflection, the questions, the video, or other responses!


  1. Kathleen on September 7, 2020 at 6:41 am

    Happy Labor Day Everyone!

    Happy Labor Day Everyone!

    I do not wear a wristwatch any more just look at my phone. It seems like I live on my phone sometimes and that’s where everything is these days.

    We have lots of clocks in our home. Just added a clock to our home from my father-in-law’s retirement. It was a gift for his service at Con Ed for 44 years. He passed away many years ago but just got the clock recently because my mother-in-law passed away last month.

    God bless.

    • Patty on September 7, 2020 at 4:29 pm

      Thank you, Sister.

  2. John Hopkins on September 7, 2020 at 6:58 am

    Good morning, Sr. Melannie…
    Good morning, all….

    Happy Labor Day!

    As usual, a blog post that both delights and instructs!

    A teacher friend of mine once said that during the summer he had two times: sunrise and sunset. I’m certain that those who summer on Cape Cod must plan their days around low tide and high tide. Around here the days are getting shorter. Those glorious June days that ended around 8:30 have given way to the lengthening shadows of September. Most of September is still summer, yes, but even now some of the leaves on the sugar maples in my front yard are starting to yellow. Then in November we “fall back” into darkness. Ouch! Sorry! My musings have turned melancholy!

    Looking out my window, I see the glorious sun gathering on the side of my neighbor’s roof. Another day! Thank God!

    • Mary on September 7, 2020 at 8:42 am

      Life is full of bumps, with all this new technology it annoying but still so amazing. I too am not fond of the shorter days. The hummingbirds are preparing to leave as also the butterflies. For 65 years I never wore a watch. Was given one when I retired. Now at 78 I wear one that tells the steps I take. The time I sleep. Even tell me to move when I sit. My heart rate, and where I am. Technology Amazing! I love you all, love the messages, look forward to Monday’s.

  3. Kathi S on September 7, 2020 at 8:17 am

    Your blog about time made me remember a few things told to me by friends: “The pandemic has stolen time from us.” I think for some of us it became a time to slow down and reassess what’s important in our lives, go deeper. Another: “Life is like a roll of toilet paper—the closer to the end, the faster it goes.” (I have a clock in my bathroom too!). And this amazing video about The Peacock Clock.
    Enjoy! Happy Labor Day. May you be blessed with peace and happiness in your new location.

    • Lorretta on September 7, 2020 at 11:44 am

      Thank you for this directive to view the Peacock Clock. What an amazing time piece! What beauty and creativity and knowledge to make such a work of art!

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on September 7, 2020 at 12:54 pm

      Kathi, Thank you for the link to the video about the Peacock Clock. Fascinating! The talent and artistry needed to produce this treasure! And then for the person who got it up and running again after so many years. It’s lovely! Sr. Melannie

  4. Rose on September 7, 2020 at 9:26 am

    I don’t know the source of this insight, and you may have heard it. Headstones in a cemetery indicate the birth and death dates of the deceased this way: 1900-1970. The insight goes something like this: what’s important is the dash, what happened between those two dates. How do we spend/invest/use all the time between those two dates. One of my favorite reflections.

  5. Mary Therese on September 7, 2020 at 10:13 am

    I’m so happy to have your blog back in my life! I measure Mondays by it! I was unable to open it for two weeks and I missed it so much! I don’t wear a watch. I’ve tried, but I lose them within days. Somehow I’ve stumbled through life without one and am seldom late. I love the quote “There is only one thing more precious than time, and that is who we spend it on.” I need to keep those words in mind over the next two months as we move toward the election. I find I can get lost online reading articles that mostly upset me so I’m working on embracing poetry rather than news stories. Today I opened up Daniel Ladinsky’s “Love Poems from God” which Sr. Melannie recommended in a past blog and read poems composed by Teresa of Avila. Now that is a good saint to spend time with!

  6. Patt Germann on September 7, 2020 at 10:31 am

    the concept of time has always intrigued me — for so many reasons. I do wear a watch most of the time, haven’t come to totally rely on my phone for the time. I love days when I don’t have to set an alarm anymore because I’m retired but I am missing, terribly, going to daily Mass during this pandemic. I don’t mind an alarm to get to do that.
    I am old enough now to recognize that my days are limited. Once, several years ago I read a thoughtful piece called ‘A Thousand Marbles’ — a fellow looked at his life and figured statistically he had about 1000 weekends left in his life based on his age. He put a thousand marbles in a very large container and every weekend he took one out….it was a visual and vivid reminder to spend weekends well, doing what he loved with those he loved(wasting time??). I very often think of that “counting of time” when I am on weekends and try to make my weekends special as much as possible. I think I may be blessed at this time to be past what would have been a thousand for me if I had done that, but I still treasure weekends and all time with family and friends and doing things I love.Thank you for your reflections on time.

  7. Cyndi on September 7, 2020 at 11:29 am

    Time…today I took the time when I awoke to lay in bed and listen to the sound of the raining falling along with some added sounds of thunder. So peaceful! I took time to pray and meditate, time to just “be” and instead of always “doing”. Life is such a precious gift! I am grateful to have this Labor Day off from work. I wear a watch, have clocks everywhere in my home and most of the time am always conscious of what time it is. Thank you Sr. Melannie for this writing about time. It is our reminder to live in the present moment and embrace the “time” that God has given us on this earth!

  8. Pat Forsman on September 7, 2020 at 11:33 am

    As ecclesiastes says….”there is a time for everything “…….i have found that time is a great healer….softener….let time do His work….

  9. Deena on September 7, 2020 at 11:33 am

    I LOVE this week’s reflection on time! Thank you!
    I was just worrying about it so escaped into cleaning up emails.
    How perfect to find this.
    Time is fragile and often lost in my worry about how to spend it vs just being in each moment with a plan or intention but letting it be ok if something else comes up or one of those plans takes longer than I hoped.
    Let us treasure the precious time we have been given.

  10. mary ann flannery on September 7, 2020 at 11:48 am

    Melanie: I’ve always been obsessive compulsive about time when it comes to work or obligations. Just look at me. I not only wear a wristwatch (with large face so I don’t need glasses to see the numbers), I also wear a Fitbit on the same wrist. The Fitbit can provide time, but is too small to read! Unless something unforeseen comes up, I am predictably on time or a bit early for appointments. I carve my day into allotted times for certain responsibilities. But come evening or perhaps a free day and time is forgotten. But as I age, time becomes more obvious to me and I wish it were not so. Gotta work on this. Mary Ann Flannery, SC

  11. Judy Dieter on September 7, 2020 at 12:41 pm

    This is a two-line poem from my friend Clare Morris:
    Time is the mother
    Who gives birth to each moment.

  12. Jean Canatsey on September 7, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    We have two clocks in our house, not counting all of the technology that include digital ones. I have not worn a wristwatch since I retired from Disney in 2010. I rely on my phone.
    I “waste“ time by swimming, reading, serious conversation with friends and just sitting on the back porch with my husband.
    This morning we pulled up the Sons of the Pioneers on You Tube and all of sudden those old western songs that we used to listen to as children took on new meaning. “The Last Roundup” no longer brings to mind cowboys rounding up cattle but the reality of being closer to the end of our limited time on this earth. “Clear, Cool Water” and “Tumbling Tumble Weeds” become songs for spiritual reflection.
    Time becomes more precious as the days grow shorter. I pray that I will use them well.

  13. Shirley on September 7, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    What an interesting blog. The peacock clock is amazing. I do wear a Garmin wrist watch which also tracks my steps. I have worn a watch ever since I got one for my eighth grade graduation.
    Thanks again Sister Melannie! Have a great week.

  14. Christine Holmgren on September 7, 2020 at 4:24 pm

    “It is time you have wasted with your rose that makes your rose so important”. from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  15. Pat Hendricks on September 8, 2020 at 10:57 pm

    As a former religious, and high school teacher, I lived and died by bells and time..However, in this pandemic I have given much thought to the fact that there will never be another September 8 whatever I did today will never happen exactly that way again. Someday I will wish for one more minute to say I love you and to enjoy the beautiful poetry we call time because I have little left, does matter.

  16. Linda Vonderschmidt-LaStella on September 15, 2020 at 8:29 am

    Hi, Melanie!
    Blessings to you today. Such a thoughtful reflection. Thank you. It was forwarded to me by a friend. I am a ceramic artist who, several years ago, did a whole series of wall sculptures related to Time, “Taking Time Apart.” I hope to develop and expand that series and your musings give me further food for that. Here is a link to those images on my website and commentary by an artist colleague about them.

    All the best to you, Linda

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