Outside of Time

We are all familiar with being out of time - everywhere we turn, we meet time-pressed people running from one activity to the next. I used to say that I was looking for a role model who wasn't busy - but everywhere I went I met people who told me they were very busy -- too busy. Although different people have different standards, almost everyone seems to feel that they have at least one thing too many in their datebooks.

Being outside of time requires stepping away from the world of change and hurry and understanding that some part of us belongs to a different reality. We remember living outside of time in the summers when we were children and days stretched endlessly in front of us. We remember living outside of time when someone we love has been ill, and the world has narrowed to prayer and presence. We remember living outside of time in that future when we recognize that we have become what we wanted to become.

The trick with goals that sit outside of time is that to realize them would be to drag them back into the world governed by the ticking of clocks and the turning of calendars. It is not that we want them to stay out of reach: it is that they are only touchstones as long as they stay in an eternal present. If we had them in our hands, they would crumble as surely as fairy gold crumbles in the hands of mortal men. If we keep wanting them, that aspiration can continue to shape our behaviours and attitudes as we move through the busy-ness of each day.

There is a corner of my mind where I have already been old and translucent and radically simplified, freed of stuff and of schedules. I am stewarding this body so that it will be ready for that life; I am shaping this mind so it will be ready for those contemplations. I am not ready yet. To be that person now would be to lose myself, and all those connections and goals that give me shape and purpose. That wise old woman can only shape my days as long as she sits, waiting, outside of time.


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