There's Not Enough Time, Or Is There?
There's not enough time.
That's what most of us say to ourselves when we contemplate all that must get done in the ever-increasing passing of our days.
I've even said during the brief seasons that I have to try and relax, write, think, and contemplate the state of my faith, God, the universe, and everything.
There's not enough time.
And when it comes to actually allowing ourselves to stop, grow silent, and allow ourselves a moment or two of quiet reflection, prayer, or meditation, there's never enough time, is there?
Even when we do manage to carve out some moments to attempt reflection, rest, prayer, and the like, we find that the demands of the noisy world around us creep in and take over.
Joan Chittister had this to say about this phenomenon in our current culture:
Sinking down into the self where the Spirit resides and the waters run deep is close to impossible in a culture built on noise and talk and information and advertisements and constant movement and a revolving door schedule. Silence and solitude are lightyears away from the raging list of unending activities we carry in our heads.
I've written about this before here in this space, but I can't seem to shake the feeling that there's so much more to be said about it.
I had this dream the other night that left an impression on me, even though I could only remember snippets when I awoke.
In this dream, which was more like a science fiction movie, I was racing against time to find some explosives planted by some dystopian enemy. I was desperately trying to save the people around me, and each time I thought I'd gotten all the bombs defused, another would be discovered.
Thankfully, I woke up before anything terrible happened. But I lay awake for most of the remaining night, deeply thinking about the dream and what it meant.
My mind wandered as I lay there in the darkness. I pondered things I hadn't thought of in a while. I took stock of what stressors would produce such a vivid dream and thought,
"There's not enough time."
The truth is there is all the time in the world to do what matters as long as we do what matters. Time gets multiplied when we do what gives life to us and the world around us. We're the ones that put the demands of time upon ourselves.
The 16th-century reformer Martin Luther once said that he would pray for one hour every day unless there was too much to do that day, and then he would pray for three hours.
To be fair, Martin Luther didn't have a cell phone chirping at him all day long, letting him know of all the communication and news he was missing, but still... there's some serious wisdom there.
When he knew there wasn't enough time in the day to accomplish all that he felt must be done, he stopped and spent time in silence and solitude to pray, reflect, and find restoration for his soul.
All those tasks that we think we have to do. They can wait until we've had time to rest, pray, reflect, and think.
We would do them better if we weren't in the state we're usually in--a state of near-panic, resignation, frustration, etc. We need to take the time to reset before we restart.
This isn't an impossible thing. Sometimes, the pressing tyranny of the urgent can overwhelm us into believing that it is, but it isn't.
For my part, I have discovered that I can only write as well, think as intensely, or fashion a sermon that makes sense if I have given my mind and body a break.
So, I pray over people as I write them cards of encouragement. I give myself a moment of rest to close my eyes and think about things that deserve more than a moment of thought.
I also go on excursions occasionally, searching for creativity, beauty, and really good tacos.
For some of us, we feel guilty if we slow down. We don't allow ourselves to reset because we constantly think about things we're not doing. This is something that I struggle with, and it's a devilishly hard thing to shake.
Over time, I've discovered that I can think and reset while doing laundry, cleaning the kitchen, or straightening the house. Even something as simple as putting away books around my office can be a restful exercise.
(Which reminds me, I probably should do that!)
We ought to do whatever it takes to push away the nose, forget about the time for a while, and let ourselves be.
The moment we begin to believe the mantra "There's not enough time," there won't be enough time. We'll always feel behind, undone, incomplete, and not together.
Instead, we can let time work for us and not against us. We can employ the bendy nature of time to push back against urgency and enter into the flow of the Spirit within us and without us.
And there will be enough time.
May it be so, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us now and forever. Amen.