Time is an illusion

I was on retreat this past week – I gathered with colleagues and friends, and we used the time to visit, to share resources, and to have moments of prayer (that is, thanksgiving, lament, and reflection on life and the world).

Time is an illusion.  As a parent, I can see how my youngster may get more impatient with an event sooner than I.  The reason can probably be accounted for with an understanding of relativity: I’m older, so a given span of time is a smaller percentage of my life than it is my child’s.  …so, it passes more quickly.  Another piece with time being an illusion is the notion that people think it’s infinite – especially young people (myself included).  We don’t even consider the possibility that tomorrow may not come – the future is not guaranteed.

I’m not getting in to end-times predictions, or any of that.  I’d rather invite thought around making the most of one’s time, and enjoying what we have.  To me, that is the purpose of good community; and I think good ritual marks time in a meaningful way, whether it’s once (like a wedding) or often (like a weekly service).

A key piece in Christian living is sabbath-keeping.  That is, taking time for rest on a regular basis.  It’s easy to skip out on that – to keep working at being productive every hour or every day, every day of every week, every week of every month, every month of the year.  I like that saying which goes something like this: “no one ever said on their death bed that they wished they’d spent an extra day in the office.”

There are two words for time that are to be distinguished from each other, when talking in theological terms: “chronos” (a Greek word from which we derive “chronology” in English) and “kairos” (a word having to do with “God’s time” or an “opportune moment”).  We all know about chronos – it’s linear time where there’s a past, present, future, and things move in one direction.  With kairos, I suspect we’ve all known about it in some way: it usually has to do with times in history when crises lead to opportunities (opportunities for God to act, speaking theologically).

When I speak with family on the phone, invariably, we end up saying “I love you” on the phone because we all live a distance away and the phone is the most personal contact we have on any regular basis.  I take it to mean that we recognize that life is a gift and time is fleeting – time may run out at any moment.  It’s not a thing to be feared, but it’s a reality not to be denied.  Make the most of every moment.  Take time to be, as well.

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Posted on June 12, 2010, in Tyler's occasional web log. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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