My daily schedule is both predictable and malleable. Malleable implies that I am able to shape my time and adapt the hours to accomplish the work before me.
I am fortunate to have great flexibility in how my time is spent. I am usually up by 6:30 with what seems like are many hours before me. Today I woke up at 5:15 with academic writing on my mind to do and yesterday, a cold Sunday morning, I was snuggled in until 7:30 knowing that I could on this day of different kinds of possibilities. Rarely do I not begin the day with personal writing and reading —part of the sustaining predictability and my relationship with God.
Last week I decided that I might consider being more conscious of keeping a daily schedule. I could designate time for preparing for the classes I teach—that I can easily get lost in—and revising work I am committed to again—that I spend too much time avoiding. In between those professional duties are relationships to nurture; meals to prepare and eat; yoga, reading, and writing that feed my soul; and other sundry stuff that take and maybe even waste time. I could stiffen up that malleability just a bit.
Friday the plan failed. Or did it? I wrote morning pages, read and roughed out a plan for the day before going to yoga; those were the predictable parts. I’m not sure where the rest of the morning went as I sat at my desk, but I know I didn’t do any revising or plan for class and the virtual meeting I prepared for didn’t materialize. So when invited to join two of my colleagues on campus with the intention of working on revisions, I eagerly went—my schedule is flexible and this was the work I planned for part of the day.
While my friends worked productively to scrub video and reconstruct interview narratives, I essentially fretted, sighed, and rearranged words for 3 hours. The rest of the evening I lamented my lack and escaped into mindless television, I think.
The sermon on Sunday was titled Time.
The biblical text, John 2, was the story of Jesus at a wedding that tells us a great deal about time. Since my husband is the preacher, I have the luxury of re-visiting his spoken and written words. Here is his paraphrase of the critical parts for my purposes:
Jesus’ reply, “My time has not yet come” (v. 4) – What do you think that means? Don’t bother me mom, I’m trying to enjoy the wedding, I don’t have time. Or, don’t pressure me about a miracle – I haven’t begun my appointed role yet. It isn’t time for that.
We are presented with two meanings for time again. The sermon goes on to explain.
One is the kind of time with which we count and track the everyday events of our lives. It is the time that is measured in minutes and seconds, hours and days. It is the time we spend standing in lines, literally “clocked in” at work, or waiting at the stoplight. It is mundane, ordinary time and it beats on relentlessly until that time when we close our eyes and escape it’s dull, predictable cadence. This is the time we feel is limited and fleeting, the time that exasperates and deflates and confuses us. This is the time there is never enough of.
Hours and minutes measured the time I spent writing with my friends on Friday afternoon, from around 2:00 p.m. until 5:10 p.m. to be exact. But, there is another kind of time at play, a sacred time, that the Feasting on the Word Gospel Commentaries contends is “where all that is predictable fades and what emerges in its place is sheer possibility. This is God’s time, and it punctures through the ordinary canvas and clock of our lives at unexpected intervals to reveal God among us.”
Really? The hours and minutes I spent in the conference room on Friday were sacred time? I didn’t pay attention to any possibilities; I only focused on fixing my problems. I was too frustrated by my own inadequacy to notice the possibility that God was among us. My limited approach when I began my work that afternoon was to focus on what is lacking, to sink, as the old prayer states, under adversity.
Time as a sacred moment means that God is at work in our occupations, relationships, and family life to care for and redeem the world.
How would this afternoon have unfolded differently if I believed God was with me, evoking his presence as God working along side me in this particular community of people?
The question becomes, how would we look at all the ordinary, everyday events of our lives if we believed God was with us, working through them to care for God’s people. According to Mary, the mother of Jesus and the gospel writer of John, and because of Jesus, whatever time we think it may be, it is also God’s time. The work won’t suddenly be easy, the hours and minutes will still tick away, but the moments will be full of the hope of possibility.