MY CHILDREN ASKED ME THIS RIDDLE. “What flies and yet does not move?” I could not solve the riddle. They answered, “Time, it flies but it doesn’t move.”
Is that true I asked myself. Surely not. The reality of this comes especially as we come to the close of the year. This is the time of submitting reports and reviews of the work done throughout the year. Even as I reviewed the work of ETAC for 2009, I realised that we have been very busy and that time did fly but I asked myself the important question of how far have we moved as a conference and more importantly as individuals.
There are many quotes on how valuable time is, and Benjamin Franklin has said much about that: “You may delay, but time will not.” “Lost time is never found again.” “Remember that time is money.” Not all these refer to achieving earthbound goals.
No matter who we are, we all have the equal amount of time each day and year. The question then is, “How best have I made use of this precious commodity? Have I busied myself in vain?”
We realise that we have drowned ourselves with activities that on reflection are not all consequential. Yet when we fill our calendar for the New Year the same pattern of activity re-emerges. We are once again going to be busy and robbed off our precious time but how differently does the psalmist tell us to look upon time: “Lord, make me know my end, And what is the measure of my days That I may know how frail I am.” – Ps .39:4.
In the Bible, “time” is understood as both “kairos”, which means the right time or opportune moment and “chronos”, which is time spent and sequential. Jesus used and understood time in both these ways. Time was of essence to Jesus. “The time has come,” He said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe in the good news!”– Mk. 1: 15
Before 2010 becomes another routine of inconsequential events and activities, before we spend so much time securing our lives and positions on earth, we should perhaps think seriously about our priorities and resolve to keep our lives for what is important to God and what pleases Him.
As we come to the close of another year let us reflect on the time spent beyond earthbound goals and used opportune moments for the furtherance of God’s Kingdom. When we put God’s desires in the centre of our planning for 2010, He will never disappoint us.
The Rev James Nagulan is the President of Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference.
WHAT SPIRITUALITY MEANS TO ME
Simplicity as a spiritual discipline
IN SOME OF HIS EARLIER BOOKS, Richard J. Foster, a leading voice in spiritual formation, reminds us that to cultivate a deeper spiritual life, one has to develop certain spiritual disciplines which include those we are generally familiar with, like meditation, prayer and fasting; and others which we probably have not given suﬃcient attention to, such as study, solitude and simplicity.
The largely neglected discipline of simplicity is obviously important enough for Foster to write a book, Freedom of Simplicity, reminding Christians of an important spiritual discipline which can help to re-orientate our value-system and shape our character. It is worth noting that to opt for a simpler life is not to withdraw from the challenges of the world. We will continue to be responsible people, excelling in what we do and earning an honest living, but we do not have to acquire an expensive taste or adopt an extravagant lifestyle. A simpler life as a spiritual discipline helps us to set our priority in life right.
Someone who chooses to live a simpler life would find it easier to cultivate the virtue of generosity. When we learn how to live with less, we can learn how to share more. Furthermore it is likely that those who take delight in simplicity will find their lives filled with a spirit of contentment. Like Paul, they can say with peace in their hearts and trust in God, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Phil 4:12b)
We may have forgotten, but this is what the Methodist Social Principles aﬃrm: “A simple lifestyle is not a call to an ascetic life. It is a spiritual discipline which increases our awareness of God’s presence and providence in our lives. A simple lifestyle frees us to be more sensitive to the needs of the poor and the beauty of God’s world.” (Para 85, 3. a) and 3. b). There is freedom in simplicity and Christians may want to reclaim such a spiritual discipline to live the liberated and fulfilling life in Christ.