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.