Empty hours?

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

Is there a child anywhere who hasn't asked this question in one way or another and at some time: "Mommy, what can I do?" Maybe the usually ever-present older sibling has found a new friend down the block. Or all the other kids are at camp. Parents' replies to this question vary, but they're pretty universal, and might include: "Why don't you go ride your bike?" Or, "I'll pay you to mow the lawn." Or, "How about taking Fido for a walk?"

But time changes when we grow up. We get married. Have kids. Maybe a full-time job. Time? We don't have enough of it. In fact, it seems that not too long ago – perhaps in the US more than anywhere else – the main complaint was not having enough time. Work hours were long. People were making money, but what about a little relaxation? Add to that the awesome responsibilities of raising a family – never mind a request for volunteer work every now and then – and it was a wonder anyone had time to sleep. (A few folks claimed they didn't even have that.)

Now, all of a sudden, the global economy has taken such a downturn that many people have lost their jobs. For some, the time once spent making a living has opened up. Many are using this time to worry about how they're going to feed their families and pay the rent.

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Recently, a young widow found herself with empty pockets of time. She was an artist, but for years she'd also worked full time while raising a family, and there had been little time for art. After the family grew up, much of her leisure time (there still wasn't much) was filled with house and garden chores, as well as the activities she loved to do with her husband. But when her husband died very suddenly, there were many changes in her life. She moved to a new area where she knew only a few people. And although she had more time to spend on her art, she now also had empty time. And the question, "What should I do?" arose just as it might for a small child.

So one day, after she'd completed a project, eaten, cleaned the house, pruned the garden, and fed her cat – and still had an hour before the next thing she had to do – she took this question to her Father-Mother God, the divine Parent to whom she'd been progressively learning to turn for every need since she was a child. She knew firsthand God's love for her. Divine Love had delivered her many times – from sickness, from danger, from joblessness, even from hunger. Now, in the silence and solitude, she asked out loud, "Dear God, what do You want me to do – right this minute?"

The Apostle Paul asked a similar question when he was interrupted in his time-consuming persecution of the early Christians, by a vision of blinding force. "Lord," he asked, trembling with fear and astonishment, "what wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6). It turned out to be a life-changing moment for Paul. He went on to heal and to teach as Jesus had done.

The widow, too, received an answer to her question. After a quiet moment in prayer, she remembered the opening words to Mary Baker Eddy's book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "The time for thinkers has come" (p. vii). She thought: Here is time to think, not just time to look for a job, or time to worry about paying bills. Or even, time to go out and enjoy myself. But, time to think – wisely, carefully, and with God at the center of thought.

She was left with a conviction that she would commit more time each day to studying the Scriptures and to praying not just for her own well-being, but for the world's. She felt renewed energy and a profound peace.

As each of us spends more time and thought centered on the universal God, good, we will be led to the practical solution that works best for us.

Thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work:
I will triumph in the works of thy hands.
Psalms 92:4

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