Managing Time

In the tense modern life which we live, the problem of managing time is an all important one. I am not going to try and convince you that you have plenty of time and can pray if you want to; I want to speak of managing time within the tensions, the rush of life. I will spare you any description of the way in which one can make time: I will only say that if we try and waste a little less of it, there will be more of it. If we use crumbs of wasted time to try to build short moments for recollection and prayer, we may discover that there is quite a lot of it. If you think of the number of empty minutes in a day when we will be doing something because we are afraid of emptiness and of being alone with ourselves, you will realise that there are plenty of short periods which could belong both to us and to God at the same time. But what I want to speak about is something which I believe is more important. It is the way in which we can control and stop time. We can pray to God only if we are established in a state of stability and inner peace  face to face with God, and these things release us from the sense of time – not objective time, the kind we watch – but the subjective sense that time is running fast and that we have no time left.

First of all I would like to draw your attention to something which we all know and we all discuss. There is absolutely no need to run after time to catch it. It does not run away from us, it runs towards us. Whether you are intent on the next minute coming your way, or whether you are completely unaware of it, it will come your way. The future, whatever you do about it, will become the present, and so there is no need to try and jump out of the present into the future. We can simply wait for it to be there, and in that respect we can perfectly well be completely stable and yet move in time, because it is time that moves. You know the situation when you are in a car or on a train and you sit back, if you are not driving, and you look out of the window; you can read, you can think, you can relax and yet the train moves, and at a certain moment, what was the future, whether it is the next station or the last station to which you are going, will be present. I think this is very important. The mistake we often make with our inner life is to imagine that if we hurry we will be in our future sooner – a little like the man who ran from the last carriage of the train to the first, hoping that the distance between London and Edinburgh would be shortened as a result. When it is that kind of example we see how absurd it is, but when we continually try to live an inch ahead of ourselves, we do not feel the absurdity of it. Yet that is what prevents us from being completely in the present moment, which I dare say is the only moment in which we can be, because even if we imagine that we are ahead of time or ahead of ourselves, we are not. The only thing is that we are in a hurry, but we are not moving more quickly for this. You must have seen that more than once. Someone with two heavy suitcases, trying to catch a bus, rushes: he is as quick as he can be, he runs as fast as the suitcases allow, and he is all intent on being where he is not.

– from Beginning to Pray by Metr. Anthony Bloom

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