In English we use the word time to mean a number of different things. We use it to mean the passage of seconds and minutes – “what time are we having coffee”. We also use it to describe those moments of significance – “the time has come to get a new job”.
In Greek they have two different words for time – Chronos and Kairos these are the words used in the New Testament of the Bible, both translated as time.
Chronos is the word that reflects the passage of time. In my culture we are generally taught that this type of time is an enemy to be overcome. We are given the image of Father Time who walks around with a scythe in one hand and an hourglass in the other. The scythe represent the cruel passage of time, cutting us all off at the end, some earlier than others.
I heard a phrase recently, but I can’t remember where (it was probably from Gretchen Rubin):
The days are long but the years are short
It rings true in my experience, we perceive time with a kind of reverse Doppler effect. When we look at time in the now we convince ourselves that we have all the time in the world then we look back at the years and see how short it’s been.
C.S. Lewis said:
The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.
We know this is true, but it’s not the way we behave, or the way we experience it.
I’ve had some time off sick this year because of stress related issues. One of the reasons for this is that I got all mixed up in my head about the difference between urgent, immediate, time-scales, scheduled, action lists, priorities and the like, this lead to all sorts of worries. On top of that I became anxious about the inevitable family changes that come from children growing up and the effects of ageing process on the rest of us.
To put it another way, I stopped (as the famous Serenity Prayer tells us): “Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time”.
Through the later half of this year I’ve been trying to reverse my image of time and embrace a new gratitude in the day-to-day and the minute-to-minute. Rather than seeing time as an enemy stealing time from us, and looking to cut us off, I’ve tried to see it as a set of moments to be enjoyed. Each moments contains its own value and blessing.
For years I’ve known that the bible tells me not to be anxious, but I missed the antidote to that anxiety that followed straight afterwards:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.