On Island Time

One of the luxuries of vacation is having time – even time to think about time. In a book I’ve been reading, it spoke about ‘island time’. I’ve not only read about it, but occasionally experienced it as well. The author of the book says that in the tropics there is a general lack of respect for time – or rather timekeeping. Time is quite special, but clocks are an aberration.

I have felt that way often during counseling sessions. Why one hour? For some sessions it’s too short, and others too long. When a “special moment” arrives I would rather throw the clock away. I don’t think God operates on the same time schedule as we do.

Do you sometimes feel that way when you wake up first thing in the morning? Like the clock should never have been invented – that you would love to just stretch time for a while and breathe in the new day before having to attend to obligations?

How about our spiritual life? The three minute devotional often leaves us empty. It’s like having Cheetos for breakfast. It is better than nothing, but we are still hungry and unsatisfied and know that we could have done better for ourselves. Yet, the day calls and we answer. I wonder if we answer too quickly – or we try to crowd too many things into our schedule making it impossible to have room for any form of spontaneity.

Relationships often suffer under rigid adherence to time schedules.

I think of couples on their honeymoon who cannot relax and enjoy each other, but must use every minute to see and do as much as possible at their destination. Somehow I don’t think that was the original intent of taking time off after a wedding. I also know couples who leave no time to talk or be together during the typical work week. They lead parallel lives and wonder why they are unsatisfied with each other.

And I know of parents who have scheduled their children just as tightly. They don’t leave much time for the kind of relationship building that can only happen at random moments during a day. There is no such thing as “quality time” with kids – there are only quality moments in the midst of a quantity of time. A lot of grandparents seem to understand this. Age has a way of shifting our priorities.

I am not advocating abandoning our time commitments. When I agree to a certain time, I must keep my promise. Being late is just plain selfish. I have seen quite a few cars with a bumper sticker that reads: “Always late, but worth the wait.” I think to myself  “Probably not”.

I know I have missed a good deal of life by being strictly on clock time. Everything is about hurry and efficiency and productivity. My focus is narrow and my goals are clearly defined. But then I remember the Garden of Eden. I’ll bet they weren’t on clock time.

When I am on island time I do not feel like I am wasting my life – rather I feel like this is what I was designed for. I can’t say that I’ve lived much of my life this way so far, but I am learning.

Maybe island time is really God time.

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. (Eccl 3:1)

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