“How might our experience of time change if we could learn to receive time as a gift from God? How might this open us up to live more fully?”
Dorothy Bass, Receiving the Day
One of my favorite TV shows is When Calls the Heart on the Hallmark Channel.
It is about a schoolteacher Elizabeth Thornton in the small town of Hope Valley in the early 1900s. Elizabeth rings the bell to start and end the school day. She also rings the bell to signal the end of recess so her students will come back into the school room. The school bell marks the time during the day. Church bells do this as well, signaling a call to worship, or marking special times in the church year or national holidays.
What bells are we using to mark our time during Covid-19? How are we organizing our time during these days of shelter in place? How we organize our time is a fundamental building block of our routines and lives. We show up in certain places at certain times to carry out our work, our family relationships, our network of friends, our social routines. How we use time can be deeply ingrained in us and now our use of time has been greatly upset and changed by the pandemic.
My use of time has changed dramatically in the last few weeks. My days are now marked by zoom meetings, Facebook Live, Google Hangouts, and using my computer and my cell phone in new ways and with new technologies that I’ve had to learn quickly. I have new apps on the phone I hadn’t even heard of last week, but they allow me to stay in touch with family and friends. I am connecting with others in ways I was not experiencing just a few weeks ago. The patterns of my day have changed because like most of us I am going out a lot less and staying in a lot more. I’ve had to mark time in new and different ways and create a new routine.
This time we are living into is a time of a different quality. God is somehow through each one of us preparing us for new life and new ways of understanding time. We are living into Lent and preparing for Easter in ways unlike any other season of Lent. We can find our way through this time, as there are new “bells” every day that await our notice. We are forming new routines and new connections. We are making community in new ways. These new communities will take root and grow in ways we cannot predict.
We can be co-creators with God of new rituals that can transform us.
Psalm 74: 16-17
“Yours is the day, yours also the night; you established the luminaries and the sun. You have fixed all the bounds of the earth; you made summer and winter.”
Dear Lord, we struggle with our new routines and living into a new way of being. Guide us as we connect with others in new ways and help us to be aware of the new bells ringing that mark these days. Help us to see that every minute and every moment can be holy. As we move through Lent, may our rituals and routines draw us closer to you. AMEN.