Time with the Spirit
I moved to Davenport nine months ago. Nine months of time this year feels shorter than nine months last year. It’s a wake-up call, really, how on one end, there’s an objective measurement of time; the speed of sand falling from the top to the bottom of the hourglass never changes. The clock’s ticking maintains the same rhythm that, in our experience, doesn’t click any faster as time moves forward. Yet, time itself is experienced differently depending on what we’re doing or where we are in life. Our experience of time makes it seem like life moves more quickly with each passing year, but in measure, it never changes at all.
Time has both an objective and subjective dimension. Time takes forever when eagerly awaiting a red light to change, waiting for the dog to return inside on a cold winter morning, or when we’re in a state of dis-ease or stress. When in a car crash, time moves into slow-motion; it’s stressful. Therefore it’s helpful for time to slow down so we can concentrate and act accordingly.
I think, perhaps, there’s something to be said about how God purposely designed our experience of time to vary based on certain conditions. The ancient Greeks had two different words for time- “chronos” and “kairos.” The former describes chronological time, whereas the latter describes an experience of time that cannot be measured, where time seems to change pace based on one’s experience. So it goes that the best times feel too short, and the uncomfortable moments feel so utterly long.
I think that might be to our benefit. If we’re stuck in that place where time drags, I wonder if it’s God’s intentional design to stretch our experience of time, to make it feel longer lasting. It affords us more of an opportunity to reorient our lives, to slow down, pay closer attention, change direction, so that transformation and new life can take root.
This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost, the day when Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to his disciples. This Spirit is referred to in the Bible as our “advocate” who brings power and spiritual gifts into our lives. It’s a time when we get to slow down and allow ourselves to be reminded that even if life is flowing well, we can sometimes get stuck, and it’s the power of the Holy Spirit that we yearn for to enter into our lives and transform us.
If you haven’t felt the nudge of this Spirit lately, you’re probably feeling like you’re stuck at a red light or watching the clock tick. The good news is that the Spirit doesn’t just blow into our lives as a ghostly figure but is also animates others. We’re bold, then, to seek the Spirit not just in our moments of alone time, but to seek it within others. “Where two or more are gathered in my name, Jesus says, there I am also.” It’s in those kinds of spirit-filled moments when time flies, where we get caught up in the peace and the joy of being part of a Spirit-filled community, where we get to experience the abundant life in Christ with each other made possible through the power of that same Spirit that guided Jesus, the Holy Spirit.