Saturday, June 27, 2009

Time

Jesus told his followers, where your treasure is, your heart will follow. He was speaking of monetary treasure, but surely the concept can be applied to that which means the most to us.

I can write checks all day long. It's just money (or at least that's what my husband says). No, my treasure is time. It was a lesson I was reminded of this past week, during a youth group mission trip to Matamoros.

I've been reading a book called A Minute of Margin, by Richard Swenson. It's a "devotional" version of his earlier book, Margin, which refers to "breathing space" in our lives. Clearly, most of us live with very little margin.

In Mexico, it was so simple. Get up, eat, drive to the work site, shovel sand to make concrete, drink, rest here and there, eat some more, shovel some more, go home, shower, eat again, sleep. There were three Mexican workers helping us at the work site. They never seemed to be terribly concerned about what time it was; or rather how long particular activities took. We were using a concrete mixing machine. One day, it was being very temperamental and would not start. Over and over and over again, they wrapped a piece of rope around the starter and yanked it hard. Just about the time us Americans would begin staring at our watches and bemoaning all the time being wasted, with almost comic timing, the foreman, Ines, would begin to sing this silly tune he sings all the time. The comic relief was perfect. But even more perfect was his understanding of American anxiety about the passage of time.

In today's reading, Swenson explains that the Bible uses two words to denote time. One is chronos, which refers to the linear measurement of the past, present and future -- the hours. The other is kairos, which refers to significant experiences or events and not linear time. Jesus, he says, lived more in kairos than in chronos. OH that I could do the same!

Every day, I wake up and begin to think to myself, what do I have to do today? It's as if the stop watch begins ticking. I feel the pressure of the constraints of time squeezing me from all sides. Even now, I know I need to finish this post so that I can do some other reading I need to do, run some errands and work on Monday's lesson.

In the 70s, musical artist David Bowie sang, "Time may change me, but I can't trace time."

Ah yes, try as we may, we cannot hold onto time. Like water being poured into our cupped hands, it slips through the cracks and trickles to the ground, never to be retrieved again.

"The gods confound the man who first found out how to distinguish hours! Confound him, too, who in this place set up a sun-dial, to cut and hack my days so wretchedly into small portions" -- Plautus, 200 B.C.

Kairos. Beautiful, peaceful kairos. My soul longs for kairos; longs to be free of the ruthless demands of chronos.

1 comment:

TJ said...

And you are probably never late in Kairos time. That would be a real relief.