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The value of marking time | On Religion column

I played alto sax in the Wenatchee High School marching band. Parades and halftime shows demanded much preparation. We had to memorize both our music and performance routines. Those routines often called for marking time. In band lingo, marking time means marching in place while the cadence and the music continue.

As a participant in the parade of life, I’ve discovered there is another kind of marking time that is worthwhile. It is the act of pausing before moving ahead. Such a marking of time takes place when we observe a birthday or a wedding anniversary, someone’s retirement from a career or the death of a loved one. These milestones are appropriate times to review the past and reflect on both the progress made and the lessons learned.

This month I begin my ninth year as the faith and values columnist for the Reporter. This anniversary is cause for marking time and reflecting on eight years of living in a community that our family has come to value as home. Looking back, I can identify community leaders, local merchants and area clergy who have become friends. I realize how wealthy I’ve become getting to know them. Taking stock of topics I’ve addressed in previous columns, I recognize what a wonderfully diverse island we inhabit. I’ve seen how people and places provide a fertile garden of ideas for exploring spiritual insights.

Over eight years, I’ve explored reasons why our local Starbucks would easily be known as St. Arbucks, why our high school’s annual baccalaureate service is enviable by school districts across our nation, and how the death of much-loved friends calls to mind the fragility of life.

Glancing in the rearview mirror, I’m grateful for regular comments I receive about my column. I am also grateful for the continued opportunity to publicly reflect on issues of life, death, and faith.

It’s true. Looking over your shoulder provides a reality check and the opportunity to make mid-course corrections.

Marking time is a gift we have received from ancient Israel. For more than 3,000 years, Jews have marked time each spring as they cease from daily routines to celebrate the anniversary of their deliverance from Egyptian slavery. Passover is an invitation to look back and find perspective. But anyone can “mark time” regardless of their religious persuasion or time of year. And the outcome is invaluable. A backward glance always motivates a forward march.

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