“Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway?” – Jeremiah 2:25 (MSG)
If you’re older than 25 you’re probably familiar with the way that time seems to speed up the older we get. This is, of course, an issue of perception and not an actual acceleration of time. I recently heard someone suggest a reason for this phenomenon that actually makes sense. As we age we encounter fewer novel experiences. With less information to process we pay less attention, so when we look back on a week, month or year these intervals of time seem increasingly shorter.
For instance, I recently spent five glorious days in Aruba, a place I’d never been before. I experienced all sorts of things for the first time, and in hindsight those five days seem so much longer than my normal Monday through Friday. While I can’t tell you what I had for breakfast yesterday I could share all sorts of details about my vacation. Why? Because I paid more attention.
Why am I telling you this? I presided over two funerals last week, and will preside over yet another this week. Not surprisingly I’ve been thinking about the brevity of life and the whole “carpe diem” thing. While I can’t slow time down, I’m increasingly intrigued with the notion of learning to pay greater attention to the time I’m given, embracing the inherent novelty of every moment of every day.
The view out my front window is constantly changing with the breeze, the play of light and shadow, and the seasons.
My wife of 33 years is a wonderful and endless mystery to be explored, experienced and enjoyed.
If I slow down and savor the food I eat I become entranced by the wonder of texture, smell and taste.
If the key to slowing down our perception of time is paying greater attention to each moment, then meditation is the discipline that can help us live longer and fuller lives. Research shows that even a few minutes of mindful mediation each day increases our ability to slow down and concentrate. Masters of meditation claim that if we could fully focus on the sensations of any given experience, rather than being caught up in our thoughts about them, we would suffer far less than we do.
Time is a most precious gift to be stewarded well and wisely. While we can’t have more time than we’re given, we can experience it in ways that seem to slow its passage through our hearts and minds. That would be good stewardship indeed!
Interested in learning more about meditation? Try Headspace. Click here for more.
Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN