Time is different here – slower, more fluid somehow. It seems to be measured, not by the minute hand on a clock or squares on a calendar, but by the rising and setting of sun and moon and by the ebb and flow of the seasons. People are less hurried, living their days according to what is possible rather than as slaves to an unending list that squeezes into every space in their day-planner. They walk the streets of town at a leisurely pace, and I am forced to match my steps to theirs. Friends who know me well would not be surprised to hear that I had some trouble with this at first. The guy who used to clean my carpets is Swedish to the core and still speaks in heavily accented English, despite having lived in the States for years. Some time ago, he was hard at work on my carpets as I rushed about, getting ready for a meeting. He observed my bustling and shook his head, issuing these unforgotten lines, “Yust slow down. All the time I been knowing you, you are always in a hurry.” It loses a little in the translation, but you get the idea. I learned this way of moving through life from my dad, who couldn’t abide to wait in a line, walked as fast as possible no matter the destination, and never went through a door he didn’t slam. He didn’t have the time to stop and close it gently.
So I come by my hurried nature honestly. But over the years I have come to see this way of being as an impediment to my soul’s desire to linger in the presence of God. I have often heard God’s voice echoing the Swede, “Slow down. Take time to be with me.” God reminds me of the Greek word kairos, which stands in opposition to chronos, the chronological time by which we too often structure our lives. Kairos is taken to mean “the fulfilled time” and is often used in the New Testament to refer to the fulfillment of prophecy in the incarnation as well as the kingdom yet to come. Kairos is kingdom time, a time for us to respond to the Divine presence and let the world fall away for a while. And the time is now, not tomorrow or next week or after the next project is done. Perceiving the invitation of kairotic time requires us to listen with different ears, to hear the song of the wind in the pines, the trickling stream, the dance of light outside our windows. We also need to allow life to unfold in harmony with the natural order, without being forced or rushed.
The Amish have a concept they call “slow time.” This is not a speed, so much as it is a state of mind. It does not mean that the Amish work slowly or spend hours in prayer and meditation while shirking their daily occupations. But they do live responsively, in the present moment, ever willing to put down the plow if a neighbor is in need or their child needs some loving attention or if they hear the voice of God calling, “Be still and listen.” By the same token, I think the rush of my former life was more a state of mind than a speed as well. I lived with the belief that everything must get done right now, and the faster you moved through life, the more you could accomplish. But no matter how efficiently I checked things off my list, it just kept getting longer and longer. Thankfully, God has broken through the sound barrier of my supersonic life and impressed upon me the need to stop the insanity. God has challenged me to live with intention, to become more aware of myself, others and the created world, and to respond out of the Christ within. And so, I am learning to befriend time, to relate to it differently, to settle into the rhythm of this rural place in which I now dwell. And I am finding, as Thomas Merton did, that when I do so, time can become “a sacrament, a medium of encounter with divinity . . . opened to the sacred mysteries of life and death and rising.”
 Robert Mulholland, Shaped by the Word (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 2000) p. 76.
 Kathryn Damiano, personal notes on prepared curriculum, “Spiritual Disciplines”, Academy for Spiritual Formation, January 9, 2006.
 Thomas Merton, A Book of Hours, ed. Kathleen Deignan (Notre Dame, Indiana: Sorin Books, 2007) p.33.