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God-Given tasks, and God-given times

This week I was helping my youngest daughter with her homework, which focused on story, family, and writing, as her school is emphasizing literacy week in the province. We read together, told stories to each other, and looked at old photo albums together. Of all the activities we completed, she was  most amazed and impressed at the photos in the albums.

We looked back through various stages of family life, over the past twenty years, of which the last eight years were absent. Our photo albums stop abruptly around 2003-4, when we began to enter into the digital age.  As we flipped the pages, her eyes opened, stories were shared, and memories were rekindled. I believe that at times I was benefiting more from the homework assignment than she was.

IMG_0336“Dad , is that you?”, “What were you doing?”

“Is that me, or Leah, my sister?”

In the opportunity to share, I found myself remembering, and recollecting thoughts, emotions, situations. I saw my first car, my first beard, first birthdays, Christmases, and so much more.

This was a blessing for me, as it enabled me once again to move through memory and time, pondering all that had been done, and all that has been experienced.


Photos, words, letters, memories these days are caught up in the digital memories of our phones, tablets, computers, twitter and Facebook accounts. There is so much memory that I rarely find or take time to examine them. The shot is taken, the email sent, little time is taken to reflect or to wait for anything.

Qoheleth, in Ecclesiastes reminds us that God has made everything suitable for its time, putting a sense of past and future into our minds. I find that I struggle to make concrete efforts to slow down and be. I have an old windup wristwatch to help me with this. I wind it up twice a day, it generally runs about five to seven minutes slow. I am forced to stay in touch with time, and with the movement of the world around me. Perhaps I’m a little old-fashioned, but I find myself cherishing old technologies and ways.


I don’t use e-readers or iBooks, I love turning pages and my home and office shelves hold many volumes, such that I would probably disgust many environmentalists. Perhaps I waste paper, but I still love to use a paper and pen to compose homilies. I treasure the letters I receive from a parishioner who is discerning his vocation to priesthood while serving in the Canadian Forces.  The words he writes have time to ruminate with me.

I fear as I continue to be affected by changes in technology that I will lose the ability to leave God, or others in control of times and tasks.  The ability to delete, erase, or even lose memory in a split second has its advantages and disadvantages. I fear that the gadgets and technologies will leave me hindered; technologies leave me wanting everything in the moment, such that I may become addicted to the instant, and allergic to pauses, waiting, and anticipation.

I give thanks this week that I have been reminded of the value of time, of pause and reflection.  Let me live in God’s patience, awaiting the tasks that God would have for me.

David Burrows

About David Burrows

David Burrows is a priest of the church, currently serving in parish ministry within the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, a place he has called home for the past fifteen years. He consistently engages dialogue and action with the wider community through creative outreach projects. Cycling, kayaking, writing, and driving fast cars are distractions in his life.
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      • David Burrows