I have a very guilty, very selfish confession: at this particular moment, I am feeling a little grateful for Hurricane Sandy. Lest you think I am a terrible, horrible person, don’t despair entirely: I am also very sorry for all the destruction the storm has wrought, and I am praying hard for those who are suffering and trying to recover from devastating loss. Whence, then, my gratitude? It comes from the fact that Hurricane Sandy caused the seminary to cancel classes and close for two whole days–days that I was then able to use to rest and catch up on my work. [I told you it was selfish]. In addition to working all day, both days, I slept for 11 hours last night: I went to bed at 9, and woke up around 8. And it felt fabulous.
Sitting here at my computer, feeling more relaxed than I have all month–without another appointment or meeting to rush off to RIGHT NOW–I have realized that I have been living in an adversarial relationship to time for the past two months: time has felt like my enemy, like–in the words of the Pretenders song–an “Avenger.” This is, of course, ridiculous. Time is not a person–time is not really any “thing” at all: the very concept simply refers to the ebb and flow of life, birthing and dying, planting and harvesting, the blooming of spring and the barrenness of winter, tides flowing in and tides ebbing out. It’s the circle of the earth around the sun, the moon around the earth, and the turn of the earth on its axis. When you think about it that way, time is peaceful and graceful, inexorable but not malicious.
However, this is not how we usually think of time at all. We enlightened 21st century humans cannot function with such a loose, slow, inexact understanding of time–oh no. So, instead, we [and by we, I mean I] have structured, defined and harnessed time to within an inch of its life. I can count not only the days in the week, the hours in the day, the minutes in an hour, but even the seconds in a minute, and even the “centiseconds” in a second on my stopwatch, a watch that I never take off, incidentally. Every moment is calculated and calibrated, and my language about time usually involves trying not to “waste” it, trying to “maximize” it, trying to “save” it, as though it were at my disposal, under my control. This is more than a little ridiculous, when you really think about it. [Incidentally, this is why I love this article–it reminds me of the rather arbitrary and artifical nature of our modern conceptions of time, even though I know we need these constructions to function in our global nexus: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/31/the-border-that-stole-500-birthdays/?ref=time].
All of this is breaking down for me, however, and I find myself longing for a sense of timelessness, a sense of “kairos”–just being in the moment, without worrying about the next thing. I am longing for a sense of time as my friend, time as my companion on the way. I think I am ripe for Advent, the season in which somehow every day comes to me as a blessing and a friend. I know I shouldn’t be, but I’m counting the days.