Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Momentary and the Eternal

I’ve been thinking about time lately, or rather, the passing of time. Perhaps it’s because I’ve reached one of those milestone birthdays. I don’t obsess about birthdays, but I know I enjoyed them more when I was younger and still had a lot of them left to anticipate. I didn’t think about how many were left because there was a whole bunch. Either I have to accept there aren’t a whole bunch or I have to redefine “bunch.”

I don’t know why it is, but as we get older, time seems to accelerate. My mother often says that things began to speed up as she went through her 40s. The 50s were faster, the 60s went even faster, she says. She’s now 88, and I think she’s stopped checking the speed.

Part of it is the sheer busy-ness of life. Time is going about as fast as it ever did, but when you’re young, and ambitious and trying to make a name for yourself and establish yourself – things seem to move at a snail’s pace. Part of it is perception – we just think time moves faster as we get older.

Technology plays a role, too. We can do things faster. We can communicate faster, and send messages faster. We get impatient when the computer takes two or three minutes to load. Of course, faster communication doesn’t necessarily mean better communication. Nor does faster mean increased understanding; in fact, it might result too often in just the opposite. All of us have the experience of the email we wish we hadn’t sent.

What I’m finding odd is that as time seems to accelerate, it becomes less important. I’m not frantic to accomplish all of the things I still have on my to-do list; in fact, I don’t have a to-do list. If I have any list at all, it is more of a to-be list. It’s hard to explain, but I think grandparents and young children understand this better than teenagers and adults. Perhaps it is because when you sit toward the ends of the spectrum, young or old(er), you’re physically closer to the eternal and less caught up in the temporal, or momentary.

We exist in time. As C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity, “Our life comes to us moment by moment…We tend to assume that the whole universe and God Himself are always moving on from past to future just as we do.” And then he says this: “Almost certainly God is not in Time. His life does not consist of moments following one another.”

Only once did God enter time as we know it, 2,000 years ago in a little backwater Roman colony called Judea. And it changed everything.

We’ve been discussing Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis for some months now, and the end of the book is in sight. Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter have been leading the discussion. To see more posts, please visit their sites, Connecting to Impact and Living Between the Lines


S. Etole said...

May the length of your days continue to bring God glory. Thank you for the gift of encouragement you are to all of us. Happy Birthday!

Patricia said...

Happy Birthday, Glynn!

Just a year ago I determined that I was going to "savor sixty" - that I might intentionally slow down when all around me had their "pedal to the metal"...but it is, as you said, only a perception.

I wish I had plugged into this discussion at the beginning. I'll have to keep my eyes open for the next one.

Maureen said...

Good post!

Time is a fascinating construct. It comes and passes and is and nothing we do can truly control it.

I thought you were younger than I! Happy Birthday. May you have many more birthdays to enjoy.

Megan Willome said...

I love how you linked grandparents and kids. Maybe that's why they share such a special bond.

Unfortunately, I'm in the realm of adults with teenagers.

Dusty Rayburn said...

I am so glad He chose to enter time 2,000 years ago. I hate to think where I would be, if He had not.

L.L. Barkat said...

a to-be list; I like that

Savira Gupta said...

I did enjoy the link between the generations... very nicely related.

Patricia said...

What I’m finding odd is that as time seems to accelerate, it becomes less important. I’m not frantic to accomplish all of the things I still have on my to-do list; in fact, I don’t have a to-do list. If I have any list at all, it is more of a to-be list...

right here... this grabbed me. I cannot "be" and transform if I am running to catch up and "do" as time accelerates in my aging. It feels so much better to step out of the whirlwind and feel the breeze rather than be caught up in it.

Which reminds me... Happy Birthday... blow gently on those candles and give thanks for each one.

Helen said...

Happy Birthday, Glynn!

jasonS said...

Well, happy birthday Glynn. :) This is a great post--feel as if I've taken a leisurely stroll while talking with a friend. Thanks for this.

diana said...

Yup, you had at 'to be list.' EXACTLY what this decade (and hopefully the next one, too) are about. The link between grandparents and grandkids is such a wondrous one, both to observe and to experience. May you have many more happy birthdays, filled with time to be with those little ones, even as they become bigger ones. Because, after all, as you have so ably noted, time does indeed pass, faster with each year.

H. Gillham said...

I love the way you reflect on your reading of Mere Christianity.


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