This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.
On Sunday the east coast dropkicked our clocks by one hour, which was simultaneously called "losing an hour" and "moving an hour forward." Not sure which it really is. All I know is that in one moment, millions of us just changed the reality of how we track time itself, and then just carried on like it wasn't super weird.
That's a good segue into something I've been thinking about. I recently watched a recorded interview from the 1980s with Frank Zappa. Zappa was a legendary guitarist and improvisational musician for three decades. His music was odd and memorable, rarely conforming to what was popular or expected. But it wasn't the (impressive) music that he played that caught my attention. It was how he understood the very act of playing it.
He was asked if he was a great guitarist. "I'm just specialized," he responded. "I do a lot of things that aren't typical of other musicians." He went on to describe that many guitarists follow the same rules: they rehearse the exact same solos over and over again until they are flawless. They go from one concert to another, playing the same thing in the same way every time, with little variation. But then he spoke of the music he has learned to make. He shared that when the time comes in the song for a guitar feature, he simply uses the skills that he has cultivated and the gifts he has been given to make whatever fits most beautifully in the moment, in connection with his other musicians. He talked a little more about improvisation, and then he looked up at his interviewer and said this:
"It's a game where you have a piece of time.... and you get to decorate it."
Oh my. I just found a new favorite concept. Thanks Frank.
I wonder what it means to decorate time?
I've been personally reflecting on my relationship with time for weeks. We live in a rushed reality. Being a contemplative requires intentionality to slow down and be still, learning to listen and look for the fingerprints of God. But it's bigger than just stopping. A larger question is this: In God's world, how do we view our time?
I often go in one of these directions:
I run out of time (too much to do!)
I lose track of time (time to stop scrolling...)
I want time to move faster (how long til vacation?)
I want time to stop (where are the years going?)
I want to be better at managing my time. But time management is such a utilitarian word, isn't it? It's as if you go to work and it's your job to make sure that no minutes get out of control or take a smoke break before they should. You've got to manage that time, dang it!
But an artist goes to work in a different way. Their goal is to imagine and create beauty. No one manages a blank canvas. They decorate it.
Rather than constantly viewing time as something to manage, make more of, or get through.... perhaps a fresh metaphor can help in our discipleship. Perhaps we should look to Jesus each day and ask, "How can I decorate my time today?"
Jesus decorated his time by looking up, looking in, and looking out. He had interesting and diverse conversations with people, showing love and care. He found beautiful places to pray and he spent time helping people move toward wholeness. He decorated his travels by seeing distractions as opportunities to love and heal. He lived fully present, in hope of the future.
His time was beautiful and unexpected. It was decorated well.
Just imagine. "How was your day today?"
"It was beautiful. I decorated my time with all sorts of colorful things."
Oh, family. This could be a wonderful way to think about God's kingdom growing in our world.
As Christ followers who have hope in God's eternal life and God's renewal of all things, time is a gift to receive. Maybe we should spend less energy managing it and more time beautifying it with the gifts, skills, and creativity that God has uniquely placed in each of us to further the Kingdom? It'll look different for me than you, with lots of improvisation. That's the point. So then, how will you decorate time today?
Jesus, lead me into a beautiful expression of your abundant life today.