Was that event three years ago or three months ago? What day of the week is it? The clock says it’s 7 – is that PM or AM? If you’re like me, the past year and a half have really distorted your sense of time. It makes sense. Our perception of time is strongly influenced by our experiences of the world around us. There’s a lot of truth to the adage that “time flies when you’re having fun!”
For many, the past year and a half have not been fun, and time has not been flying by. The 18 months of canceled and altered plans, increased distance from friends and family, restrictions put in place by leaders and by self-directed caution, worries about our own health and the health of others, frustrations at the seemingly slow and circuitous path back to any sense “normalcy” – all of this has contributed to a distorted sense of time. Like frustrated and bored kids in the back seat of a car, it feels like this trip has been going on forever, and we just want to know “Are we there yet?!”
Our Soul Matters theme for the month of October is “relationships,” and I’ve been thinking a lot about how our relationship to time is influenced by and influences our relationships to one another, to our faith tradition, to a sense of purpose, to the events of the day, and to our physical surroundings. Time drags on when our relationships are strained. Time drags on when we are disconnected from our faith and our purpose. Time drags on when we’re facing stressful events. And time drags on when we are face restrictions on our physical space and movements.
As adults, we know that a year or two in our own past seems like no time at all. But what can we do to change our relationship to the present, to perceive this time as “flying by”? I believe the key to changing our relationship with time is to change our relationship to everything else around us. What can we do right now to cultivate and expand our connections to those around us, meeting new people and forming new bonds? What can we do right now to renew and expand our connection to Unitarian Universalism and our understanding of our individual and collective mission within this faith tradition? What can we do right now to connect with and expand our physical surroundings (including our shared worship space)?
As we explore the theme of “relationships” this month, it is my hope and prayer that we will all feel a little less stuck and find time moving forward a bit more reliably.
Rev. Jennifer Gracen
Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation