Redeeming Time

“I know you all, and will awhile uphold The unyoked humor of your idleness. Yet herein will I imitate the sun, Who doth permit the base contagious clouds To smother up his beauty from the world, That, when he please again to be himself, Being wanted, he may be more wondered at By breaking through the foul and ugly mists Of vapors that did seem to strangle him. If all the year were playing holidays, To sport would be as tedious as to work, But when they seldom come, they wished-for come, And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents. So when this loose behavior I throw off And pay the debt I never promisèd, By how much better than my word I am, By so much shall I falsify men’s hopes; And, like bright metal on a sullen ground, My reformation, glitt’ring o’er my fault, Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes Than that which hath no foil to set it off. I’ll so offend to make offense a skill, Redeeming time when men think least I will.”1. What would it mean to redeem time? I suppose theoretical physicists could posit an idea or two, but in practical terms, there doesn’t appear to be any way to actually redeem time. Nor can we repeat the past despite Gatsby’s fervent belief in its possibility: “‘Can’t repeat the past?’ he cried incredulously. ‘Why of course you can!’” 2. So, if we cannot “redeem time” or “repeat the past,” what can we do? That’s the task my husband and I set out to discover this Lent. Traditionally, Lent is marked by prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. However, as the proscriptions (uttered as ashes are conferred upon the head) state: “Repent and believe in the Gospel,” and “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return,” there’s also a sense of improvement and renewal inherent in the season of Lent. Each year, my husband and I try to challenge ourselves during Lent. We relish Lent as an opportunity to do some much needed spiritual housecleaning. And this year, we decided to do a significant overhaul of both dietary and habitual practices. We’re just past the halfway mark of Lent—this past Sunday was Laetare Sunday—and we’ve found that the changes we made have brought significant improvement to our lives. Chiefly, we both feel that we’ve gotten back “time.” You see, we gave up watching all news media and participating in social media. Neither of us could tell you what’s going on in the world right now and we have no idea what anybody thinks about it either. And, neither one of us misses that. We grew up in a world before the twenty-four/seven news cycle and constant connectivity and have strong memories of what life was like before we were all hyper-focused and hyper-connected all the time. There was just more time back then—more time to read, to think, to hang out with friends and family, more silence. While neither of us believe that any age is truly golden or that advancements are inherently deleterious; nevertheless, we both long for more simplicity and more peace. Cutting the hyper-connected cord has given us this. It’s also given us precious moments to devote to those activities which satisfy the yearnings of our souls. For both of us, the experience of media (both social and news) was draining and soul-sucking. Whether it’s the continuous fear-porn of every single media outlet (“if it bleeds it leads” has long been a defining characteristic) or the labyrinth-like quality of posts and threads on social media platforms, it’s so easy to get sucked into an emotional state or an argument. Reaction is cultivated, especially those reactions which engender fear, despair, and hostility. That’s not to suggest that joy, love, and happiness are excluded. But, in my experience, those more beneficial reactive states are secondary to those which agitate the spirit. Whether this is by design, conditioning, or by the fact that few of us can resist rubbernecking, I cannot say. All I can say is that repeated, extended exposure to news and social media has been both distressing and time-wasting for me. I can keep up with that which truly interests me (chiefly music) without endlessly scrolling on a platform or getting involved in any one of a thousand, pointless debates on a subject matter. If I want to express myself, I can take the time to craft a blog post. Life is so much more than a soundbite or a specified word limit. Why should anyone conform to such limiting principles? Thus, when Easter arrives on April 9, and my husband and I are enjoying all the foods we omitted during Lent, we won’t be reaching for our phones to see what’s happening or what anyone thinks about it. Instead, we will continue using those precious moments we gained to continue doing those activities which soothe our souls. Like Prince Hal, we will have emerged from behind those ‘base contagious clouds’ rightfully having ‘redeemed’ time from those follies which had once occupied us.

1.   William Shakespeare, “Henry IV, Part 1–Act 1, Scene 2: Folger Shakespeare Library,” Act 1, Scene 2 | Folger Shakespeare Library, accessed March 14, 2023,

2.    F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (New York, NY: Scribner, 2018).

Published by Krista S.

Lifelong lover of books and music. Dedicated to sharing and mentoring.

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