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Fifth Commandment

By Jason M. Rubin

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long….”

Exodus 20:12

I. Father Time is not to be trifled with.

He is both ancient and current, and speaking of current, time, like the tides, waits for no one. Like time, the tides flow continuously, unceasingly, in one direction, to the shore. Sure, they drift back from the beach, just as memories seem always within reach, but if the current flowed ever backwards, there would be nothing left.

So it is with time.

The past is gone, the present is merely a transient prelude to an ever-revealing future.

We personify time as a father, a sire that set everything in motion. Father Time guides us, keeps us on the path, gives us the understanding that all we can hope to aspire to is in front of us.

We dishonor Father Time by passively waiting for what we assume is inevitable, as if we’re on an escalator that brings us directly to the next stage of our lives. Yet if we wait for time to find us, we will quickly see that time has instead passed us by.

We honor Father Time by making time to prepare ourselves for the time that we stand ready for and seize when the time is right. Father Time is neither good nor bad, neither friend nor enemy. Father Time is. He always is.

Whether we use time wisely or waste time foolishly, whether we enjoy good times or bad times, is up to us. Time is an ocean we sail upon, and we each steer our own ship in the direction of our dreams.

Only Father Time knows when our time is up, when we join the permanent past and live on in the memories of others who sail on in our absence. Father Time is the ultimate authority, the author of our days and the arbiter of our lifespans.

He is no one to be trifled with.

II. Mother Earth is where it all happens.

She is our world, our home. She is everywhere around us, beneath us, above us. We were invited here. Everything we need she has provided for us. All we were asked for in return was to pick up after ourselves.

We have done a poor job of that.

This earth we inhabit, it suffers for our bad habits. We act as if we own this place, but we hold no deed. Indeed, we don’t even have a lease for this property that we don’t treat properly.

How rude we act; our behavior is unforgivable. We would never stride into people’s homes and mess it up, dig through its floor, destroy the plants and animals we find there.

But all these things we do to our planetary home that we personify as Mother Earth. Our mother, who housed us inside of her as we grew, who gave birth and thus life to us, suckled us to her bosom and nurtured us, provided us with care and security, kept us warm and safe.

We dishonor Mother Earth by thinking she is not the only one. We think that when she grows old and wrinkled and feeble and desiccated, that she will fade away and be replaced with another. Another mother who is just as nice but perhaps more forgiving. No. There is only one and she has already given.

We can honor her by helping her heal, get stronger. We must do this—and soon—because we don’t get more earth than what we were born into. We don’t get more land, more water, more air than we have right now.

There are no refills, only landfills. When it’s all used up, then so are we. And it’s happening. We’ve made it happen. All because we forgot one simple principle:

Without her, nothing can happen.

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