Yesterday I spent time on the streets. This was during the day and in addition to my evening time spent as a Night Minister with SF Night Ministry (www.sfnightministry.org). This time we were part of Faithful Fools (www.faithfulfools.org), participating in a day long retreat where we, without our clergy attire, ventured into the streets to be one of the homeless wanderers.

For a few hours we split up and navigated, blending in and experiencing the streets from the perspective of those who have nowhere else to be. We intentionally asked ourselves:

“What holds me separate? What keeps me separated? As I walk the streets, what still connects me?


What is ‘time’? If we stop to consider ‘time;’ its definition is something that actually, seemingly escapes us. Time. That space between two things.

Isn’t it, as we seek to explain it, something that is always in reference to something else? Time is a thing that we ‘keep’ and ‘lose’ as we keep it, right?

On the streets? There is no concept of time; time gets lost. Midst the hurried and busy signals, traffic and people; all moving from one place to another in order to get to their destination ‘on-time’ is, for those standing by with nothing and no place to go is … timeless? For those passing by there is not enough, for those standing still there is too much.

Sure. There are meals to get to, places and things open and available at a certain time. And yes, these become often the focus of time spent on the streets with nothing else to look toward. But time remains something that haunts.

As I navigated the streets without a watch and without any place I can call my own to stop and rest at, I found my mind and body searching to know what time it is? How long have I been doing this? Is it ‘time’ to get in line for the free meal? And then what? What will I do with my time?

Is having more time on our hands burdensome? Does it shame us? Does it interrupt our understanding of purpose? Do we feel even more disconnected to the world around us? Would this, for any continued time, drive me crazy?

Is ‘time’ – the construct of it, the ordering of it, its place-holding of memories and pace-setting of what lies ahead….Is it fundamental to who we are and how we see the world?

In a world where time seems to own and occupy so much of our attention; it is interesting that while we get all wrapped up in being busy – working and worrying about having enough time – there are those, right around us, with too much of it. In either case, it seems, we can become crazed. On one side it is the lack of it and the other it is its abundance.

Time. Who’s time is it? Is it ours? Or are we its?

Its interesting too that in James 4:13-15, the writer reminds us our ideas of what we will do and when are “mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes…”

As I lean against the building wall with no place to go while others hurry along ….I ask again the questions provided as we ventured out…

“What holds me separate? What keeps me separated? As I walk the streets, what still connects me?

Is it time? Should it be? Maybe it should be God…



About Rev Hope

Marketer, Consultant, Minister and Chaplain See also: hopeattenhofer.com - a online resume', story of my personal and professional life.
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1 Response to Time

  1. Scott Attenhofer says:

    I like the descriptions of time: for some too much time with little to do and for others too little time and too much to do. Still it would be hard for me to put myself in a homeless person’s shoes!

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