Second Hand.

Lately, I’ve been losing track of time. Or maybe time is losing track of me.

And so I’ve begun finding myself fascinated with time in these last few weeks. With the way it holds us in place, like the grooves and curves in a saucer just meant to hold a cup of tea. With the way it will never last the way we long for it to. With the way that we think we have so much of it.

So much time that we can linger in libraries, forgetting that the hands which first penned those letters moved out of the grasp of time uncounted years ago.

And this has got me to thinking about our own stories.

Our lives.

My life.

My life in flashes, looking back on the journey of who I have been and why:

Me at age eight, with the smell of wind and leaves in my hair, hands callused by the branches and limbs I so loved to climb, imagination on fire as I waltzed with the tree in our garden that I’d named June, nose in books and heart between pages, searching for the man in the moon.

At eleven, the age I learned the weight of loss, when Mom explained in hushed tones why my cousins were wearing sunglasses that day, rain on the black of our clothes while we stood in the grass.

At the clumsy age of fifteen, when I let my heart touch love the way small children dip their toes into water to test it, deciding that I believed in the way that butterflies get caught in stomachs and that they were all right when they said that the fingers on our hands were meant to find the fingers of a second pair of hands to fill the gaps, praying to be kissed as I pressed my lips against my mirror and wondered what it would feel like for someone to be pressing back.

Age eighteen, a few months from black robes and graduation caps, scared to death of change and of moving on and outward. Scared to death of my own weakness, because I did not understand yet that God folded strength into my bones the way bakers fold butter into dough. That I had the strength in me to walk across that stage in high heels and start college three days afterwards. That I was strong enough to hold the full weight of another person up the way I held him up that night in the hospital room when he sobbed against my skin until I thought his bones were crumbling from the force of his grief. That I was not always strong enough to stay standing when I faced the force of what felt like the end of everything in my heartbreak. But that ultimately, God had never asked me to be my own strength. It was the year I learned that He has always been the only thing in a human heart that can be interpreted as strength.

And now, at twenty. Wondering where my life is going; wandering through pages of books and pictures of places that my eyes are longing to see. Heart spread wide from the force of my life, from the beauty of my journey, from who I have been and why.

My fascination with time has lately led me into exploring some interesting corners of my own opened heart. And there have been a few moments where I could feel the presence of time as if it were truly pressing down on me.

Like last Sunday, when the little girl with the little brown curls sitting beside me in the pew slipped off my ring, placed it on the fourth finger of her left hand, and smiled gently down at the way it looked there. And in that moment, with music streaming all around us, I swear I saw her, many years from now when her curls are longer and styled, her cheeks painted with the blush of love, her little hands grown long and lovely, staring down at a different ring given to her by the man God is making for her, smiling gently at the way it shines. I saw it, and I felt that I might shatter with the joy of it.

And I realize that maybe time has been on my mind so much because I am understanding that I cannot grasp it; I cannot cup it between my hands. I cannot stop it, even if I wanted to. And because of the way it will not fit on one of my infamous lists, I have to learn to enjoy watching time as the second hand ticks on. I have to learn to accept time, for all it has done in changing me and changing everything around me with its gentle pushes and pulls against the fabric of our lives.

-Jessi Sanders 2013


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