Opening the Gift of Time


"Receiving The Day: Christian Practices to Open the Gift of Time", by Dorothy C. Bass £7.35 or ($10.15) and read inside here. ---------- Let me ask the question I hope you'll post an answer to as a comment, before you read below? How are you finding ways to subvert the rhythm of our consumer culture? Here are some of my ways and thoughts. ---------- Back in April, I was on a plane to somewhere, and a few seats over, across the aisle in the window seat was a Jewish man, young, with trendy clothes and bag, wearing a crocheted Kipot hat (there are some amazingly cool, Kipot hats!).

So after noticing his amazing skull cap/hat, I was struck by how he was reading the Torah, in Hebrew, and praying gently under his breadth, looking out of the window. Praying so gently and quietly no-one else even noticed I think.

I looked at my watch wondering if it was a set prayer time for him that day, and suddenly I realized that whilst I had run that day around the schedule and rhythm of check-ins and flight times, this man was living by a rhythm that was so different to mine. In that moment of realization, it was like all the noise of the plane, the air con, the trolley, the people, faded into silence and all I could see and hear was his gentle praying. Time seemed to stand still like a moment in the matrix movies, and I felt for an instant that I was seeing a reality behind the business of the one I have been in engaged in, and this young man was in that reality, a secret place everyone on the plane was oblivious to.

Talking of rhythm, one of the things I have been enjoying and finding so life giving in our church community is the exploration of the church calendar. I came into Christianity through a baptist (UK version not southern...very different!) church when I was 17. Christmas and Easter were celebrated, and then I moved on to Vineyard Churches, where Christmas was sort of sometimes and Easter was, sometimes, not that I remember the events too well, which is as much about me, as the churches I was in. But the church calendar, with pentecost, advent, epiphany, lent, etc are becoming part of the rhythm of my life. I can say 'again', because they never were.

Reasons we have been exploring the church calendar are amongst others, as a learning process for post-literate people, post-modern people coming to faith, or already with faith, for whom, reading books to learn about christianity doesn't happen. But living the church calendar, retelling the christian story, and our stories within that, is an amazing christian educational process. And we are each year trying to explore that deeper, broader and more meaningfully.

Another reason, is to give rhythm to our lives. When church has so often become about attendance, and we live in a world that sets a narrative, a story of business, consumption, and a way of living, how do we try to live differently? The church calendar has been liberating for me, and many in our community. It is a Christian discipline, of direct practice that brings indirect benefit to our lives.

If you want to read a book that will inspire you as to how the landmarks of our busy lives can be transformed by this process into a deeper relationship with God and each other, then read "Receiving the Day" by Dorothy Bass (see top of this post). It's easy to read, and short, and inspiring.

Also, after journeying through the Gospel stories, during my sabbatical, guided so profoundly by Conrad Gempf's "Meal Time Habits of the Messiah", I feel the need for more rhythm in my busy day. I'm finding the truth in the notion that the busier I am, the more hectic life, the more I need to be in a rhythm that is above and beyond that, and that transforms that. So I am taking the plunge and using Phyllis Tickle's "The Divine Hours" (see below) for guiding reading of the bible and prayers. You can read an interview on page 16 of Cutting Winter 2002 online (which a magazine you have to take a look at in any event). I'm late to this book, but given my love of the rule of Benedict, and her use of it in this book, I feel ready for it now. Sometimes things can be good for us, be we have to be in a season to embrace and receive them.