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"The Two Essential Qs of Time"

Living in a home that was surrounded by wooded areas, I always had a place to get away as a young child. From playing a game of hide and seek to acting like a general within an army platoon, the woods gave me the space to dream of new worlds and imagine what it would be like to be a hero. With my brothers, I hid behind bushes, large trees, huge stones, and tall, grassy areas, making us invisible from the world. In the fall, these playful exploits slowly dwindled as our palatial setting made a dramatic transformation. As the cold, brisk air moved into the region, the leaves began to shed their wonderful green tones, taking on a beautiful spectrum of colors. And then, finally the inevitable happened: the leaves fell to the ground.

As our yard took on a coat of colorful leaves, the time came when dad would gather the three of us together and tell us it was time to rake the entire yard. It wasn't something we looked forward to because this was before any leaf blowers were available. We knew this would be an all day project. Wooden and steel rakes combed every leaf on the property, giving the grounds a somewhat naked look. The branches stood-out and the grass looked brown. But, then again, this was fall.

Besides the mundane task of raking and bagging leaves, there was one thing I fondly remember. Having so many leaves to rake, we always had plenty of large leaf piles in various parts of the yard. On several occasions, dad would let us run and land right on top of them. As foolish as that may seem, it was fun. Even though the ground was hard, the leaves were high enough to give plenty of padded cushion. And, then as brothers often do, we got into huge leave "fights." Armed with a mound of leaves, we would drop them on each other. Dad laugh with us as we partook in this childish game. In hindsight, I see that raking leaves and making piles was more than work. It was, in fact, three sons spending time with their father.

I remember in the 90's hearing professors, even preachers, discuss about the topic of time. They would break it up into two, qualifying factors: quantity versus quality. I often heard that phrase, "quality time was better than quantity time." And for some time, I really believe that quality time was the overriding factor. The fact remains that one can't truly have quality time with another person without setting aside a certain amount of time (quantity). I've never heard of a father spending two minutes with his son and saying - "this is really quality time." It doesn't make sense. In my opinion, the quality of one's relationship only increases as the quantity of time increases; they go hand in hand. One's not exclusive of the other. Conversely, the less time spent, the quality of time decreases.

Relationships take a lot of work, and I believe they're even more difficult today with the ever-changing demands our society places upon families. It's not easy now and it wasn't easy for my parents. However, as long as I can remember, even amidst my parent's demanding responsibilities, they always set a large amount of time for their three sons. And that chunk of time, gave us the opportunity to develop relationships that were of great substance.

As I look outside my window and see the trees changing colors, I'm immediately taken back to the days when my dad would rake leaves with the three of us, his sons. I now see that those long Saturdays were much more than depositing colorful leaves into large, elastic bags. On a far grander yet subtle way, my father was quietly making huge deposits into the hearts of his three sons. Now, each leaf reminds me of a life that needs to be filled with love and compassion, grace and forgiveness, and a hope that tomorrow is going to be ok.

Thanks, pops, for carving out large amounts of time to be with me and showing me the value of quality relationships.