HomedotMagisReflectionsWhat Time Is It?

What Time Is It?

watch sitting next to flowers suggesting time“What time is it?”

“It’s time to die.”

Although the conversation between Mamma and her oncologist several months ago didn’t exactly happen with those words, that’s what the doctor meant when he relayed Mamma’s test results to us. Most people would greet such news with fear and sadness. Clearly, my mom had already laid those emotions aside and felt that she was ready to go.

She asked directly, “How long do I have to live?”

The doctor hesitated, the look on his face betraying his lack of confidence, “Maybe six months to a year.”

Mamma replied, “I sure hope it doesn’t take that long. I’ve had a long, wonderful life—plenty to be grateful for.”

With that, we embraced the beginning of the final chapter of Mamma’s life journey. Pain management and physical diminishment have dominated this path. Blessedly, Mamma’s mind remains sharp as ever, allowing her to make major decisions regarding her care. Clearly, the end of the road is near, and we’re all at peace with that. The arduous part is the waiting, and in the waiting we’re drawn to considerable pondering, including pondering our relationships with time.

“What time is it?” Mamma asks.

In her world today, it may be time to wake up, time to eat or watch TV, time to take her medicine, time to pray a rosary, or time to sleep.

Our relationships with time must be managed, kept in order. In today’s constant-motion culture, no one likes to be kept waiting, but God has a completely different mode of operation. There really is “all the time in the world” in eternity. It’s never “time” to do anything in eternity, and yet simultaneously, it’s always “time” to do whatever God wants. Time is an earthly, human construction. We measure time and keep track of events with our tool of time, but God doesn’t need it at all. Clearly, one of the things we must reckon with and detach from as we prepare to enter eternal life with God is this human connection with time.

Time doesn’t matter to God in the sense that God relishes working slowly—inefficiently, in our view. For God, each life lived is always more about the journey than the destination. While we’re here, our lives are not about us, personally, but instead are considered by how we live them in relation to others. When our earthly journeys end, we’ll live with God forever. Allowing God to do his work, through us, is the ultimate life skill for both now and eternity: surrender.

What time is it?It’s always time to trust God and his merciful love.

It’s always time to love all of God’s creation—even those we find most difficult to love. (Sometimes, that’s ourselves.)

It’s always time to forgive, as Jesus clearly models.

It’s always time to be grateful and to appreciate the journey’s countless opportunities to live by dying to ourselves, even when God keeps us waiting.

Cindy Ristroph
Cindy Ristroph
Cindy Ristroph opted for the vocations of wife and mother when her children were young, and only looked back to her former engineering career to rekindle relationships. She shifted the focus of her volunteering from schools to church when she and her husband became empty nesters. Active in many parish ministries, Cindy tries to follow wherever God leads, often well beyond her comfort zone. She delights in being amazed by our God of surprises, especially through her family, the night sky, and inspirational music.


  1. Such a beautiful reflection on that which tempts so many of us to lose focus on what is really important on this side of Heaven. The world calls us to efficiency. Our pride calls us to impatience. Our God calls us to wait…for Him…on Him. You present such a hopeful vision of life eternal where time is no longer a factor. I trust your Mom is at peace and that you are confident in her glory.

  2. The truth expressed in your article here is so essential to living a purposeful life. It is really not a “quick read” if one wants to think about all that is expressed. Compared to eternity life on earth is ……so very short. It makes me wonder about our current Catholic Church crisis and how we “miss the boat” some times to the One Who is Truth.

  3. Cindy,
    Such a difficult time of “knowing.” I do not use the word death for such a circumstance because for me it suggests a permanent end. I use the word “transformation” which I find as a much more accurate reflection of our belief in the “risen” faith experience we share with our exemplar – Jesus. My prayers are with you during this time of transformation.

  4. I love the stark beginning: It’s time to die.
    So many things and people in our world are near death.
    It’s time to wake up and pray.

  5. Cindy,
    Ask your Mom to pray for me. You nailed me in your reflection. I am one who finds myself the hardest to forgive, so I ask your Mom’s intercession to lead me to the surrender you speak of and which she lives. Thank you SO much for this reflection. Praying for you and your Mom.
    God bless!

  6. Cindy,
    I thank God for the powerful testimony you are to His graces. Your words are those of a faithful and generous disciple and servant to God and to your mother.
    Peace and Blessings my friend,

  7. Cindy
    Thank you for sharing your mother’s journey with us. What a wonderful testament to love and faith.
    thank you also for the last 4 lines; answers to the questions: What time is it? Perfect!


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