My first class at York University was titled, “Jewish People, Jewish Thought” with Professor Tanentzapf. He was a wise man who week after week would bestow upon us nuggets of wisdom, here’s an example: “In today’s society the new poverty is time.” I remember writing this astute perception into my notes. Thinking about it years later, I’ve experienced the truth of this observation, not only in my own life but also in the lives of others. Our schedules are crammed with places to go, people to see and things to do. Months ago, I had a discussion about Professor’s Tanentzapf’s insight with my wife Erika. She made the point that what we’re experiencing is not“poverty” but ”mismanagement” of time. For her, poverty can be defined as a lack of a resource.
She noted that time is constant, we always have 24 hours in a day, and how we divvy it up is in our control, I agree. We can spend hours watching T.V. or wandering a mall therapeutically shopping, but when asked for example to volunteer for something we are booked solid. We continually operate under the philosophy of scarcity when the reality is we live in abundance. The 24 hours we have is a generous gift, how do we use it? To be honest I often misuse it. Morning after morning I piece together breakfast, slide a bowl of cereal under my son’s nose and run off to work. This particular morning I said, no. I’m going to have breakfast with my 4 year old, ask him questions and get to know him. In my mismanagement of time, it is sad to say that I have sacrificed many sacred moments with him.
This is my breakfast with Sam.
Question 1: “What’s your favourite thing about Brantford?” Sam: “I like going to church and playing with my friends. I like looking at the city and going for treats. My favourite treat is ice cream from Dairee Delight.”
Question 2: “What do you think about the people in Brantford?” Sam: “They do different things, and listen to different things. I like playing with Jack.”
Question 3: “How do you feel when people are mean to each other?” Sam: “I don’t like it. I talk to them and tell them, don’t do that again please, and can you do something nice to each other.”
Question 4: “How can you make Brantford a better place?” Sam: “I can tell everybody and the builders to build a new church and listen to mommy.”
Question 5: “Where is your most favourite place to eat?” Sam: “Dairee Delight”
Question 6: “What is your most favourite thing to do with your family?” Sam: “I like to paint”
Then Sam made a request.
Sam: “How about you ask me about my favourite animal?”
Question 7: “What is your favourite animal?” Sam: “My favourite animal is a lion, because a lion is the king and is pretty loud.”
Question 8: “What’s one thing you want to tell everyone in Brantford?” Sam: “I want to tell everyone in Brantford that I have a poster of the Lorax in my room. YEAH!”
Based on this breakfast interview with Sam, what did I learn about this truly amazing person entrusted to my care? First, I realized that relationships are important to him. He mentioned playing with his friends, especially Jack. Second, I learned that he likes to eat local and ice cream is his meal of choice. Personally, I’d like to think that he named Dairee Delight because we often go there as a family and sit and talk over a cone. I also learned that Sam’s community of faith is important to him and that he feels that the Church still has something to offer Brantford. This morning, I recognized Sam’s love of art, his appreciation of nature and the Lorax. Sam is also aware of the diversity in Brantford and the need to be kind to one another. When we finished breakfast, Sam said to me, “Dad, I liked talking to you. I love you dad.” As I write this I weep, because I grieve over all the time I have missed with my son. I’m reminded of the words of Father Bill Clarke, a Jesuit priest, “God is a good gift giver, but when it comes to wrapping gifts he’s piss poor”. Time is a gift, my son is a gift. This morning I took the time to unwrap the treasure God has given me. Sam, daddy loves you more than you know. You’re my special little guy.