This week I spent 90 minutes in my car outside the office of our internal medicine physician. As my husband’s chauffeur I regularly find myself waiting several hour a week. This time I waited in the car because it was to be a short visit and because I am allergic to the blaring of “health TV’ in the waiting room.
I had a great book to read so the first half hour went fine. Fred called me from the office to say he was close to getting in to see the doctor. For the next thirty minutes I was alternately hot and cold as I turned the car off and on for heat. Soon I began to get getting angry. “What a waste of time!” I thought. “I could be home doing . . . .” Then I wondered why I was so upset. I still had the great book. I was comfortable in the car. What’s the problem?
Our spiritual formation friends tell us to live in the present, in the moment. We are told that God is always near, waiting for us to make contact. We are told that God wants us to ‘be” as well as to serve. As I thought about all this in the car, it occurred to me that our minutes are equal in importance and meaning because they are all sacramental times to express or increase our devotion.
Our culture brainwashes us to think that moments spent vacuuming or sitting in a meeting, or jogging, or cooking are more valuable than moments sitting in a car or waiting in a reception area. We are taught that generic keeping-in touch with all our friends through social media is the most valuable use of time.
But if all minutes are equal in importance and meaning, then how can one way of spending time be more of a waste of time than another? I wondered, “Isn’t every moment momentous if I live into it properly?” Am I conscious of the passing of time? Can I rest in the grace of each moment I have been granted? Can I enjoy the book in the car despite the fact that control of the passage of time is out of my hands? Isn’t the passage of all of time out of my hands?
I sat in my recliner yesterday for more than an hour thinking about this. And it occurred to me that what I was doing it is similar to marinating food. Sometimes meat needs to be soaked and steeped in a seasoned liquid before it is cooked. This process adds layers of flavor to the food and to the dining experience. I think most of us need to marinate our time. We can invite whatever seasoning that adds zest and tang to our lives (music, reading, pondering, writing) to bring layers and depths of flavor to our relationship to God and to what we offer to our world.