Here I go, quoting myself. I left this as a comment on Sharmon Davidson's blog in response to her wonderful post Time and Time Again. Time is a concept that both baffles me and has a certain clarity about it. It always fascinates me. Time's passing can move me to tears of joy or tears of sadness; either emotion can arise in a moment of sweet presence. You have likely heard it said, as I have, "There is no time like the present". Until I started writing this post, I never thought deeply about this saying. I had always just tied it to completing a task I don't really want to do, but need to do. In other words, I might as well get X (the present) over with now so I can move on to Y (the future), without Z (the past) hanging over me, nagging me with anxiety; not exactly an appealing aphorism in this context. But if I look at this phrase with fresh eyes and choose a more spiritual/philosophical perspective it begs me to tweak it a bit. Perhaps the saying would serve our wholeness of being better this way: "There is no time BUT the present." Suddenly, time feels like a gift, not a chore.
Tonight before we light Shabbat candles, our weekly reminder that six more days have passed, we will light all nine (this includes the shames) candles on our chanukiot. It is the last night of Chanukah, eight days have passed. We marked each night with an additional candle as tradition has taught us, gradually increasing the light as we approached one of the darkest nights of the year, Rosh Chodesh Tevet*, this is no accident. In our windows, despite the draft that seeps between the sill and the frame (at least here in New England), we boldly light our chanukiot (menorah’s)…the glow of the flames articulated against the velvety black of the world beyond our window.
Time can be a light illuminating the past, present or future in our hearts and minds; a comforting memory, "aha" moment, or exciting dream. Or time can envelop us in darkness, evoking fear of the past, present or future. "Or", by the way is also the Hebrew word for light. (uh-oh, I'm playing with words again, hopping from language to language-like my globe trotting accents when I speak these days!) “Or”, light, holds that faithful friend of mine, Possibility, in it…not letter by letter, but more as an intention of sorts…as does the word “or” in English…"this or that". Ahh, Possibility and Choice, a new friend. What are we choosing to see in the light? What unexplored possibility is there to discover within the cloak of night? Choice. How can we release our desire to hold time as though it has substance; a thing we can grip on to, when the reality is we cannot grasp it at all, for it is in constant motion and much bigger than we can imagine.
When one speaks of “time standing still”…we recognize that something extraordinary is taking place, and that perhaps “time”, in this case, has an expansive quality that allows for a great shift in consciousness. For something to expand, however, doesn’t it have to “move” from a small form to a larger form? Visualize the act of blowing up a balloon-the way the end of the balloon moves further from your lips as you breath into it. Perhaps this is the distance we occasionally traverse between mochin d'katnut (small mind) and mochin d'gadlut (big mind)? Even when we feel like time is standing still, however, it is in motion…and it is not a balloon nor is it breath. No matter how hard we try we cannot contain time.
Each night this week we lit the menorah and chanted our prayers, three generations, my parents, Gordon & me, Belin & Rosewillow. My eyes would be drawn to the flickering candles and then suddenly my gaze would veer away from the light and there...bathed in the glow of the candles were the lovely faces of my daughters; no longer babies, or even little girls, but teenagers transforming into women day by day. Then I'd turn my head and look at my parents and husband whose faces have also changed over the years, softening in some places, deepening in others, each one a unique map of time. Once again my eyes would find a new place to settle; the flames reflected in the dark window pane, a repeating image, reminding me of the graceful dance that time has become, has always been, will eternally be.
Perhaps I am rambling again. Maybe you are wondering where I am taking you on this winding word path…
Back to the beginning of course!
"...time is quite circular...think of seasons of nature and seasons of life...and yes being creative clearly transcends time as anyone who has created any kind of art or done anything totally engaging knows...so the secret for me is to not get hung up in how much time I have...wishing for more time is a waste of the time we are granted..." ~Laura
*On the Hebrew calendar, the new moon ushers in the start of each month.