Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » This Passing Time

This Passing Time

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 24, 2012

This is a conversation I had over lunch yesterday, with a friend and Keepa’ninny. Our discussion wasn’t quite so well-worded, though, as this “sermonette” delivered by Richard L. Evans, on the broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word, November 7, 1948:

This Passing Time

As we go about living our lives from day to day and from year to year, the passing of time is mechanically marked off by clocks and chronometers and calendars.

But time means much more than a mere mechanical measure. It is the dimension within which we now live. And its passing moves us through many changing patterns – some of which we understand and some of which are deeply perplexing.

Gradually, yet so quickly do we grow older, that while we feel ourselves to be still young, we may come to be looked upon as being old in the eyes of those whoa re yet younger. In youth, we look far ahead and dream great dreams, and while we still suppose we have our youth, there are others yet more youthful who begin to number us with those who have left youth behind.

So quickly do we move through these paradoxical scenes, so quickly and yet so gradually do we pass from youth to age, that, when we begin to realize the leisure with which some of us made vital decisions, the unconcern with which some of us postponed our preparation, the thought is somehow frightening – and suddenly we become aware that there are none so young but what it is time for them to begin to prepare for life – and none so old but what they must live in readiness for whatever eventualities there are.

There come to mind these dramatic words from the Psalms: “Remember how short my time is” – which might well be a constant reminder from age to youth, and from youth to age. There are other impelling phrases that also have an echo of urgency about them: “Therefore be ye also ready: … of that day and hour knoweth no man.” “Behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.”

And after this life, then what? Well, there will always be a future – a future that will always have its own work to be done. But here and now we can’t afford to linger too long before we begin to do the things we would like to do, and the things we ought to do.



  1. This week’s FHE text here.

    Comment by Carol — August 24, 2012 @ 7:32 am

  2. I understand what Richard L. Evans means about not lingering “too long before we begin to do the things we would like to do,” but I am also reminded of Tennyson’s poem, Ulysses.

    Please pardon the length; I’ve edited it somewhat, but the essence is here. As I grow older and grayer, I have come to love this poem. It is never too late for a new beginning.

    It little profits that an idle king,
    By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
    Matched with an agèd wife, I mete and dole
    Unequal laws unto a savage race,
    That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

    I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
    Life to the lees: all times I have enjoyed
    Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
    That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
    Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades2
    Vexed the dim sea: I am become a name;
    For always roaming with a hungry heart
    Much have I seen and known; cities of men
    And manners, climates, councils, governments,
    Myself not least, but honoured of them all;
    And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
    Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
    I am a part of all that I have met;
    Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
    Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
    For ever and for ever when I move.
    How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
    To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
    As though to breathe were life. Life piled on life
    Were all too little, and of one to me
    Little remains: but every hour is saved…


    There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
    There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
    Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought
    with me—
    That ever with a frolic welcome took
    The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
    Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
    Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
    Death closes all: but something ere the end,
    Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
    Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
    The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
    The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
    Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
    ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
    Push off, and sitting well in order smite
    The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
    To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
    Of all the western stars, until I die.
    It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
    It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
    And see the great Achilles, whom we knew
    Though much is taken, much abides; and though
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
    One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

    Alfred,Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) 1833

    Comment by kevinf — August 24, 2012 @ 10:32 am

  3. Gee, Ardis. I saw the title of this post and thought that you were marking the beginning of the football season.

    But, seriously, this is just one more reminder–along with my odometer turning over again in a few day–that I ought to get busy and do something. Thanks.

    Comment by Mark B. — August 24, 2012 @ 10:45 am

  4. Lately I have gained a slightly different view on time. Sometimes we are so worried about making things happen right now, that we forget what a blessing time is.

    I am struggling to forgive someone. Knowing that I can wait out the pain in this immediate moment, and let time heal me, helps me calm my frustrations. I have time enough that I can gain perspective, rather than forcing myself to pretend that all is well. My forgiveness will be more real and lasting when I have given myself permission to work on forgiving a little bit here and a little bit there.

    There are blessings that I want for my husband and me. There are relationships I want to have with my siblings, that are not important to them. There are things I want to share with my children, to help them understand a divorce that they didn’t see coming.

    None of those things are happening now. If I spend too much energy trying to force them to happen, I am likely to push people farther away. Instead, being patient and letting time and space apart give all of us distance from those events. By allowing everyone a perspective that isn’t immediate, gives us a chance to prayerfully and thoughtfully build new relationships if we want. Saving is from seeing life as something we must do right now, is one of the blessings that time gives us.

    Comment by Julia — August 24, 2012 @ 10:51 am

  5. Though much is taken, much abides; and though
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;

    Conversation with my friend was sparked in part because during this past year, the skin on my hands and arms has abruptly become that thin, crepey, finely wrinkled skin of the elderly. The change was so sudden that there’s no denying that time is running out, that what “abides” isn’t the “strength of old.” I need to persuade myself that the last line of Tennyson’s poem can also be true.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 24, 2012 @ 10:54 am

  6. Ardis,

    Isn’t the last line it the poem the essence of the gospel? We are promised that we can make each day count, and that even after death, we are saying will continue to strive, to seek, and not to yield.

    I have no doubt you have lots of great and worthy things, here on earth and in the eternities.

    Comment by Julia — August 24, 2012 @ 11:04 am

  7. You’re right, of course, Julia, about the gospel. Some moments are more forceful than others in making us acknowledge our mortality, though!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 24, 2012 @ 11:10 am

  8. Thanks for the reminder about patience, pain and forgiveness Julia. That was very helpful to me.

    Comment by Mina — August 24, 2012 @ 11:57 am