Journey with me, if you will, to the final moments of your life. At that time, what is important? If you were suddenly granted one remaining week, how would you spend it? How we answer that question should make clear the distinction we have been trying to make between ordinary and sacred time.
Would any of us choose in that moment to spend another day at work? Would we want to watch the latest movie or buy the latest gadget? Would we be afraid of those with power or worry about fitting in? Would we want to win the lottery? Would we want to enjoy fame, be the Beatles, for just one week? Would we want to be the President? Would we want to eat the best food, take the most opulent vacation or lose ourselves in some other experience? “No,” would be our answer to every question because deep down we know that all of the above are simply ordinary ways to pass time.
If we had one week to live, we would want to spend it doing two things: getting right with God and making connections with those closest to us. If this is what matters in that final moment, it should be most important to us now. We should live with this end in mind.
Our society tells time as precisely as possible according to the spinning of the earth, but humans are not planets and we relate to time in a completely different way. When we remember the past, we hold on to those sacred moments where we connected with other people at a heart level. If we pay close attention, we’ll see that when think of someone significant to us we recall a series of specific, non-sequential moments. These are the sacred moments we shared with that person. Sandwhiched betweens these times is a bunch of ordinary days that are worth mentioning only in passing. This is the nature of time as it relates to us.
If we choose to go against our experience and, instead, see our seconds as empty containers, we will agree with the painting above that All Is Vanity. And when we come to the end of our days, our only hope will be to have more empty days to fill doing nothing significant. Growing older will seem like a curse because we will have less and less time to live.
But if we embrace our humanity, and order our days to percieve the uniqueness of our perspective of time, our time can have meaning. If we’ll cherish the moments we have, not for some banal pleasures, but to love those around us as unique individuals, we will experience the passing of time as a gift because the sacred moments we experience will enrich the subsequent ones we have together.