Every noon as the clock hands arrive at twelve,
I want to tie the two arms together,
And walk out of the bank carrying time in bags.
As if our relationship to time weren’t crazy enough, we deliberately throw off our clocks by an hour. Twice a year. You’ve heard about the health effects of this whipsawing time. The risks of heart attack go up in the first few days of the “new time,” as do traffic accidents and workplace injuries. Depression goes up, women miscarry, men commit suicide.
As you can tell, I’m not a fan of fiddling with our clocks. We are already at war with time. It’s against us, it bullies us. After we have traded time for money we complain that our time has been stolen from us. We have been cheated: there weren’t enough hours in this day.
It wasn’t always this way. Our forebears lived as though God created time and there was plenty of it. Enough for work and play, achievement and rest. Enough for family and friends, neighborhood and community. They didn’t rely on machines to tell time; they observed the natural world, the sun and the moon. A good and full human life was one in tune with the rhythms of the earth, which was itself following its swirling steps in the dance of celestial bodies. They sought not to manage time but to hallow time, to make it sacred. That is what the Sabbath was meant to do. It’s why the Tradition created seasons of fasting and feasting—it gave meaning to time. “Why is this night different from all other nights?” asks the child at Passover. If every day is the same, life is meaningless, absurd.
Most people who show up in doctor’s offices are suffering from stress. They are battlefield casualties in the war on time.
We don’t live in Arizona, American Samoa or Guam, so our time is going to change this weekend. Slow down. Become deeply aware of what you see changing—the quality of light, the angle of shadows, the unleaving of the trees, the quietness of an evening without the background noise of a million crickets and cicadas. Why is this night different from all other nights?
God’s most precious gift to us is time. It is your friend and mine. It doesn’t help to fight it, to try to seize it and hold onto it. The best thing to do is to slow down so that we come into our own rhythm; when we do, we find that we are instantly in sync with the divine dance of all creation, and that time is taking us somewhere stupendous and mysterious.