The truth is that people need help debriefing their lives. They need to examine their experiences to learn from them… to help people make sense of what is going on in them and around them. In earlier times, people accomplished this while lingering over meals with their family and engaging in late-night discussions on front porches or on the phone with friends in extended conversations…. Now we have to stimulate those discussions for people because they aren’t making TIME (emphasis mine) for them anymore, due to the frenzied pace and isolation of contemporary life.
From his book, Missional Renaissance, Reggie McNeal writes these words to move our thinking about the goals of Sunday morning worship service. I could talk about that, but I want to talk about Time, and how little we have.
I was watching a documentary on Mike Douglas, the tv host from the 60’s and 70’s. The show was aired in Philadelphia. The documentary was embeddded with clips from the original broadcasted show … and I realized, having grown up in South Jersey, that watching Mike Douglas and his daily hosting of hollywood stars and musicians was in my childhood memories. Sammie Davis Jr, Bill Cosby, Carol Burnett, Captain & Tennile … I am warmed by their youthfulness.
My mind drifted back to those days of being eight or nine or ten. It seemed like a simpler, slower time, I rationalized. When afternoons crawled into dusk, and the smells from the dinner hour lingered through the whole evening. Mom would sit at the table, playing solitaire, and the sweat on her glass of ice water was the hourglass reminding us that time was barely moving. Biding time – waiting ON time, because it moved too slow for our impatience, was relieved by an afternoon of rhythmic rocking on the neigbor’s porch swing.
Where did that life go?
Life … my life, is now impoverished of Time. The sacredness of an hour has been lost to the minute. Dinner eaten in 12 minutes. Cooked in less than 10. Cleaned up in 2. Less than Thirty minute meals. A glass of water consumed in cupfuls and gulps, no time to sweat. And playing solitaire? Isn’t that the game played by people who have no important place to be in the next 20 minutes?
Debriefing–making sense of life and what is going on around me–is pushed to the far edges of my days; maybe 10 mintues in the morning, or the 27 seconds it takes me to fall aspleep after I crawl into bed. But I need to make sense of my life.
McNeal touches my poverty. There is a moment in my week that I am permitted to stop, and Debrief. And This, honestly, is why I go to church. For one hour I debrief my Life, and hold it up against the Words of the Keeper of Time. And am reminded that I am the Poor, desperately Poor, and in need of turning from this Driven Pace.