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holy slowness

The older you get, the faster time feels for you.

The older you get, the faster time feels for you.

I read that in a study somewhere and don’t feel like looking it up, but it makes sense. When you’re young, you only have so many hours under your belt. Each one feels massive. But after you’ve passed through a couple million, another hour is nothing.

It’s like money. A child gets a $5 allowance and it feels massive. But to the richest men in the world, or even your average middle class adult, it’s not that much. Because you have so many dollars already. 

The same is true, so the theory goes, with your time. You get a lot of time and each one feels a little less big; a little less weighty. 

I remember being young and my mom told me that a friend was coming over in four hours. In other words, I had to wait an eternity.

Now, I doubt I could get everything done that I need to and be ready for her in four hours. 

Four hours is the same, but different.
Time changes. 
Four hours is still 240 minutes, but feels like less than it used to.

I once asked a friend, How fast does time move? 

She, a science teacher, began to speak and then paused. We are used to breaking up time into minutes and hours and seconds, but how fast do these measurements slip by us? What is their speed? Does it depend on the observer?

I had a cruel and unusual teacher in Middle School who would make students in his detention stare at the clock as punishment. Imagine how slowly those seconds ticked by.

Compare that to the seconds that rush by when you play basketball with gym buddies, or scuba dive. That time evaporates like steam from a camp stove. 

I wonder how this relative experience of time translates to our memories. I look back on golden afternoons which seemed to stretch into perfect, magical nights which lasted much longer than tonight. When I reflect on adolescent evenings playing Night Games with the neighborhood kids, they seemed to last forever, yet somehow I was in bed by 10 at the latest. 

Maybe the hours were longer back then.
Maybe time was slower.
Maybe children know something I don’t about eternity.

I bet that’s why nostalgia makes our past look so rich: if time moves slower when you’re younger, you can pack much more thought, feeling, and meaning into each moment.

I first held the hand of a girl in the backseat of a friend’s car. That ride felt like a magical oblivion. Of course it ended, but I don’t remember the end; I only remember being lost in the moment. 

Now, we rush from one thing to the next and before we know it, the sun is down and we’re brushing our teeth. 

Another day has ended. 

Another one tomorrow. 

Same ol. 

I bet God wants us to be people of big, slow time. I bet that if we slowed down enough to keep up with Him, we may be able to hold onto those moments and feelings a bit longer.

Perhaps this is a small part of what Jesus meant when He told us to be childlike — that we should drown in the depth of the present; that our moments should stretch out indefinitely in all directions, rather than our normal mode of distraction and removal. 

I look at my phone the second I get a whiff of boredom. I open my laptop when I get home. Remove me from this place and time until I am doing something entertaining again. 

Maybe part of becoming childlike as we parade through time means slowing down and experiencing a holy slowness.

May we move through time much differently.

May we move through time like children again.


(Side note: see how science influences the rest of thought and culture? Einstein’s theory of relativity quickly trickled down into the realm of ethics. Everything is connected.)

For more thoughts like this, check out my latest book!

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