Before leaving for Costa Rica last July I opened my calendar to check on a few details. It was very odd to see the next three months with no dates filled in. Now, for the past two months I have not looked at my calendar. We’ve been living away from clock time.
In Costa Rica, our time was controlled by the tides and the weather. The small beach near our hotel was not accessible during high tide, so our walk had to be timed to the tides. Because it was the rainy season in Costa Rica, our outdoor activities were somewhat dependent on when the next cloud burst would occur. Most of the time we didn’t worry so much about the weather—we simply got wet a lot! In Oregon, the tides also dictated our walks and visits to a park that was visible best at low tide. While in Maine, it was crucial to know the direction of the tide. A tidal difference of 20 to 40 feet means that the water flows fast and fills in the areas exposed by low tide very quickly. You didn’t want to be caught out on the tide flats when high tide was moving in! During these two months off I haven’t really bothered much with knowing the date or the day of the week. Except for showing up to the flight to and from Costa Rica on time it didn’t much matter.
Most of the time we live on clock time—or what is known as chronos time. This time marks the linear progression of our days, schedules our appointments and meetings, and reminds us important events. The rigid scheduling of our time lulls us in to thinking we are in control. It doesn’t take much to remind us that we aren’t. Just think what a sick child does to your carefully planned day…or a flat tire…or an unexpected encounter.
We need a healthy dose of clock time to guide us and help us be where we are supposed to be. But I suspect we go overboard in this endeavor and sometimes find ourselves so attached to clock and calendar that we leave little room for God’s time—Kairos time to work in our lives. Again, we start to trust more in the ordered, linear movement of chronological time—we think this will keep us safe and secure. All we have to do is schedule it!
Clock time might keep our schedules, but thanks be that our lives are kept in God’s time. Natalie Sleeth wrote “Hymn of Promise” while pondering the death of a friend and the seeming opposites of fall and spring. She took her cue from a T.S. Eliot poem that contained the line—in our end is our beginning. Before his death, her husband asked that it be sung at his funeral. The hymn is a beautiful reminder that we are kept in God’s time: “In the end is our beginning; in our time, infinity; in our doubt there is believing; in our life eternity. In our death a resurrection; at the last a victory, unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.
Come October 1st, my calendar will once again be filled with things to do and meetings to attend. But, I hope to keep with me a sense of what it is like to live off the clock and be more in tune with God’s timing for my life!