Time, is there ever enough of it? It doesn’t seem like it. My to-do lists always seem longer than the hours in the day.
This month my Recalibrate Life read is A Place Called Simplicity: The Quiet Beauty of Simple Living by Claire Cloninger.
The feeling that we lack time seems to complicate life; it leaves us frustrated, overwhelmed and worried. As we click through the to-do’s on our lists, our eyes are constantly on the clock.
When I am really busy I often time-out my chores on paper from the time I need to be done to the time that I am beginning them, working backwards. This is especially true if I am having guests over for dinner and I want to be sure all of the food is ready at the same time.
Cloninger speaks of two types of time in her book. One is “chronos” which is the Greek word for “clock controlled” time. The other is “kairos” which she describes as “God-controlled time measured by moments rather than minutes.”
I know there are so many times throughout the course of a week that I think or say aloud “I need more time.” Especially when I see the day going by too quickly and only half of my list completed. Cloninger asks an important question, she wonders, “[w]hich kind of time are we really craving when we hunger for more time?” Is it more clock time or “more boring hours that never seem to pass, more frantic minutes to spend rushing around and racing against our deadlines? Or are we really hungering for more meaning-filled God-time, more of the deep, sweet contentment that fills us when we are able to rest for a moment in the timeless present?”
I know I definitely don’t want more frantic frenzied moments, yet I do want to get my work done. But even more than that, I want “more meaning-filled God-time.” I need more of what I call “breathe-deeply moments.” Time where I know my heart rate slows and I take long deep breaths as I totally relax.
I am enjoying some breathe-deeply moments as I write this post. I drove 40 minutes this morning to hear a baroque concert; violin, cello,and flute music. So I am sitting outside on this cloudy, cool morning sipping a cup of creamy, hot coffee and enjoying the smell of the flowers around me. The birds are singing loudly with the music that is being played. Music from the 1750’s-1820’s. I am breathing deeply, watching the birds fly around, looking at the people seated here in the courtyard, just taking in the beauty and holiness of this moment. I am in the courtyard of an Italian renaissance style villa.
It is in being fully present here that I realized the truth of the statement,”the beauty and holiness of the moment.” When I sat down here, the musicians were practicing, the birds serenading, and the reality of the peace I felt within overcame me as tears filled my eyes. The Lord is in this place. He created the beauty that surrounds me, visual and audible. I am all here and writing this post seems so timely as I soak in this God-moment.
Cloninger says “we cannot manufacture a kairos moment.” It would be possible for me to be in this place anxious and fretting over what the rest of my day holds, and not be all present. So it isn’t necessarily about the time and the place. There are times I sit out on my patio and breathe deeply and other times I only see all the weeds that need pulling in the surrounding gardens. It is really all about the way we look at life. We must choose to look at it in a new way.
I almost didn’t come here this morning. I had planned it for a few weeks but that was before I knew about the dinner plans we have tonight, which means for four hours of driving later today. So last night when I looked at my planner, I thought about how I really didn’t want to be gone that much. But this morning when I woke up I felt extremely sad thinking about not going, and I knew how much I would regret it. This concert is something I have really been looking forward to, so I decided to give into the desire. I set aside my time-monitoring for the day and came anyway.
I tend to worry too much about time. Cloninger says, “[w]e should make our plans, commit them to God and then determine to receive today like a 24-hour treasure to enjoy and celebrate.” What a beautiful way to think about time and take in the moments gifted to us by God! She also makes other suggestions of how we can help ourselves find more kairos moments, I will share the ones that resonate most with me.
I know I miss all too many moments because of my rushing about. Cloninger reminds us that God’s Word tells us, in Ephesians 5:16, that we are to make “the most of every opportunity.” I get to choose, will I continue to rush around or will I breathe deeply and allow my soul to be filled as I enjoy the precious gifts God has graced my life with? This morning’s concert was a choice, it was an opportunity I almost missed out on. I am so glad I chose to come!
Cloninger also encourages us to “not wait to be happy.” So often we put off things to some day, and end up missing out. Like the dress you are saving for some special occasion because it was an extravagant purchase. Or the antique dish you refuse to use because it may get broken so it remains wrapped safely in the cupboard because it is too precious.
I get it, I have done those things, but I am choosing differently. I have some of my Omah and Opah’s old china in the cupboard, and I have let it sit for many years, until about a year ago. One day I was having a dear friend over for lunch and decided to eat off the plates and sip coffee from the tiny cups. It gave me more pleasure than I can even tell you. It brought back memories, and led me to share stories and tears. It was a beautiful time, kairos moments for sure. I breathed in deeply the memory of the comfort of being close to my precious grandparents.
The author also encourages us to “slow down, to stop rushing, and to stop focusing on on the destination and begin enjoying the journey.” I am totally focused on the destination all too often, and missing the journey. This is definitely an area I need to work on. Life is all about the journey, but we miss it looking for something better in the future. Be present, be here now.
Another suggestion involves remembering to spend the time we set aside on things that are meaningful. One thing that my journey in recalibrating life is teaching me is to really evaluate my choices. Are they adding to my joy? Are they part of my God-given purpose? Cloninger says that we need to weed out what does not add to life–like time-gobblers. This is something I am also learning. I need to look for the things that lead to rest and renewal. It is obvious that some things are non-negotiables, but there are others that we get to decide on. And with those I am choosing the path of rest and renewal.
I recently read a book that spoke of how the woman knew how to live life with “uncomplicated abandon…” that means spontaneity, not planning every single minute. I am not good at that, but I am going to start setting aside moments in my day to live just that way, and learn. It will be slow, I know, but I have to start somewhere.
Well, the concert is over, and I don’t want to leave. I don’t want these moments to end. I know how quickly I fall back into living with the clock as my taskmaster, and forgetting to find joy in living my God-given life. Change is hard, and slow, but learning this is well worth the effort.
How are you living life? Mostly frantic in the busyness of the minutes in your day or are you enjoying moments that only God can give? Take time to look for the kairos moments and find rest and renewal in your days.