Slivers and Shards of Time

I don’t think my experience is atypical.

I race from meeting to class to appointment to task to gym to bus to social engagement.  My life is split apart – too much to do wrestled into too little time.  No longer the singular whole I remember life being as a child, it is now shattered into sometimes seemingly disparate bits of time.  Singularity escapes me.  Perhaps this is a condition of the modern age, or middle age, or both.

In between these pieces of time, broken from one another, I find shards – shards and slivers of time.  Little bits: five minutes here, seven minutes there.   Sometimes these bits are barely long enough to take a breath.  Most often these shards of time are too short to do too much, and yet long enough to make me worry about wasting them.  So, I do what I most of you too would do with these fractured five minute moments: I check my emails and start projects that I cannot finish, and so start again, later.

But every now and then, other things beckon.  My eyes are drawn up to the painting over my desk.  It is an abstract impression of a northern Ontario lake, painted from the perspective of a cliff on the Canadian Shield.  The artist has layered colour over colour, and as the light strikes the painting at different times in the day, various hues show through.  I find myself both calmed and energized by what I see.

Sometimes, the light that illumines the painting draws my eye outside.  Across the street from my office, I see an oak tree.  In the winter, bared of leaves, I see that this tree is actually a dance.  Branches whirl – twisting they invite me to follow the contour of their contortions and to marvel how chaotic parts make for a symphonic whole.

Usually, the above is much more satisfying than checking my emails.

I call these mini-Sabbaths.  Smaller instances of the bigger discipline of stopping: to see, to rest, to pray, just to be.  These shards of time remind me that we are invited into repose, into rest, into the Sabbath for a reason.   We are recollected, reconnected and resurrected in stopping to remember where we are, who we are, and whose we are.   Curious, indeed, is our propensity to be busy instead.

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10 thoughts on “Slivers and Shards of Time

  1. diannegray says:

    What a beautiful post, Allen. I could actually feel my body swaying while I was reading bout the oak tree – you have a lovely way with words.

  2. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks for your kindness – so freely giving on a day when you are to receive. Happy B-day Dianne!

  3. jannatwrites says:

    You’ve described life so well- it’s a constant push and pull. I like how you describe your pause as a mini Sabbath. It sounds like a beautiful painting.

  4. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks Janna. I love the painting. It is a bit unusual, and sometimes gets described as “interesting.” But it has worn well over a number of years and I think it was worth every penny!

  5. It seems to me that there’s something of the Sabbath about the season of winter, too….a time when, at least in some ways, we have to slow down here in Canada.

  6. agjorgenson says:

    Agreed. I was just mentioning in class the other day that on the prairies winter was a time for daily chores, equipment repair, curling and visiting with neighbours.

  7. shoreacres says:

    There’s little I remember more fondly than the Iowa blizzards. Of course they were dangerous and disruptive, but for a day, or two or three, there was nothing to do but watch and wait. Say “blizzard” to me in a word association test, and I’d probably come up with “fireplace”, “cookies” or “books”.

    It was a kind of Sabbath, for sure. Now, I hope for days of deluging rain – working outside as I do, real rain means I get to live out the southern equivalent of a blizzard.

    The trick, of course, is to find a way to live that singular life over multiple days, weeks and months. I’m working at it.

    • agjorgenson says:

      For the months of January and February we keep our fingers crossed for snow days in Southern Ontario. Even though it means doing catch-up, it always seems the days away from the grind are more profitable than one can imagine!

  8. Denise Hisey says:

    Love this idea! a mini Sabbath! What a great idea, thanks for sharing it!

  9. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks for commenting Denise. I hope your experience of mini-Sabbaths will be as enriching as mine have been.

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