There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be… A.J. Heschel
A Realm of Time – The Time Series – Part 2
Time can be seen in two ways:
There’s time in a quantitative sense. It’s what we’re talking about when we say “I’ll meet you at Seven.” It’s the measurement of life by minutes, hours, days, etc.
Then there’s time in a qualitative sense. This definition of time has nothing to do with the measurement of time, but things that happen that create an experience of “time.” It’s what we mean when we say things like, “that was the time of my life” or “I’ve never experienced a more painful time…”
The writer of Ecclesiastes (and Ancient Hebrew tradition) placed more emphasis on the qualitative nature of time, rather than it’s linear clock-like counterpart. They were more interested in what a ‘time' or ‘season' brought out in a person or group; what the moment taught them.
In our modern world, where everything is scheduled, and everything is measured, time measurement (management) is essential.
When can you get here?
How long will it take?
What time do you have available?
How much time did this or that take you?
How much sleep did you get? Didn’t get?
How many appointments can you fit into a day?
How fast did your business grow?
How much time did you spend making that?
When will my prayer be answered?
When will I be healed?
When will my partner show up?
When will I have enough time?
Time. Time. Time.
We fit too much into too little time, and the quality of our lives are suffering for it.
Plants take time to grow; houses take time to build; a baby spends nine months in the womb. It takes us 12 hours to drive to Jesse’s mum's house; a broken leg takes time to heal. The bitter cold wraps its icicle arms around us for a season, only to be driven out by small rays of warm hope, before the blistering heat embraces us fully, and the cycle continues.
Jesse (husband) can make a mean latte. He grinds the coffee beans, tamps the ground coffee, locks the group handle into the machine, presses a button that releases hot water into the group head so it brews and pours golden drops of heaven into a small black espresso mug. He heats the milk – I can hear it churning and warming in the jug even as I type – swirls it to a glossy meringue-like finish and then angles the milk jug into the mug lined with espresso in such a way that a beautiful honey colored pattern forms on the very top of the milk.
Instant coffee is a much quicker process… and its taste reflects it. There’s no beauty in it, none at all.
In his book, The Sabbath, (highly recommended read!!!) Abraham Heschel wrote:
“To gain control of the world of space is certainly one of our tasks. The danger begins when in gaining power in the realm of space we forfeit all aspirations in the realm of time. There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord. Life goes wrong when the control of space, the acquisition of things of space, becomes our sole concern.”
Divine grace thrives in the liminal space – the moments we rescue from the worship of accumulation – the now and not yet, in-between the beginning and end of things. It makes you see the qualitative nature of your time, not just the hours as they pass or the coffee when it's ready.