Sep 2010 23

Perhaps the fall season of the year more than any other makes us think about time.   All over the country, seventeen to nineteen year old students have begun a  new adventure in their lives.  Their parents, who tearfully settle them into college dorms, are left wondering, “Where did the time go?”  They were not supposed to grow up after all and the years have passed so quickly.

On a recent visit to my grandfather’s farm, that same question came to mind as I stood in the doorway of the old barn and stepped back in time.  I could hear and smell and see the busy barn as he fed his animals and carried big buckets of water from the nearby stream to water them.  Now it stands empty and silent, surrounded by overgrown weeds and grasses where his corn fields once stood tall and straight.  I felt a deep sadness at what time had taken away.

“Time marches on,” the old adage goes and we know it is true in all of our lives.  Mothers must leave their children at college campuses, just as their mothers did for them, with the prayer that their precious child will become who they are meant to be.  I, as well, had to be thankful for a place like the farm and allow cherished memories to soothe the loss of a grandfather and all that I associated with him.  The relentless passage of time certainly is bittersweet in all of our lives.

But in Africa, time has also become the enemy!  If we do not use the days and hours we have been given to their fullest, the scourge of Africa will continue. Mothers are losing their babies and toddlers at alarming rates because there is not clean water or proper health training. Think of how many mothers may never get to see their child’s full potential realized.

Children are raised in orphanages or are begging on the streets because their parents’ lives have been cut short or destroyed by AIDS or war, sickness or just plain poverty. Countries are closing because of acts of terror or government actions to expel those who would do good for their people.  Children are hungry.  Women are second-class citizens or worse.  Little girls are robbed of their childhood to be trafficked for sex or given to a man for marriage at a very young age.  Time for them will become endless minutes of pain, guilt and fear.

So as time continues its steady march we must take action to help those who are in need.  We cannot sit anymore and be content to let time pass us by, but instead must put all of our energy into work that makes a lasting impact.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Join a short-term team and travel to countries where love and help are in short supply.
  • Take on a project such as child sponsorship or supporting the salary of a teacher or supplying a village with water.
  • Empty-nest moms & others: volunteer with Compassion Corps and help us make a difference for families that are in so many ways just like yours
  • Find places in your local area to volunteer. (see our volunteer page on the website for ideas)

“Time is free, but it’s priceless.  You can’t own it, but you can use it.  You can’t keep it, but you can spend it.” {H. MacKay}

Together let’s use time for all it’s worth!

Beth McMillen is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Compassion Corps; she also serves as Short-term Teams Coordinator.

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