I met my late husband, Robin, on a quiet day at an event led by him entitled “The Poet’s Eye”. It was about seeing life the way the poet or artist does – without preconceptions, categories or judgment – open to perceiving the divine touch at work within time. Robin opened the day with the words “All time is God’s time.”
Robin’s memory of me on that day of our first encounter was of my leaning forward, eager to learn, sitting on the edge of my seat. Once we were married, the characteristic indicator that I was home from work was, apparently, the sound of my footsteps bounding up the stairs to greet him. These examples typify my approach to time. I like to get things done, and quickly.
Robin, on the other hand, was an adagio man. Ours was a marriage of the hare to the tortoise: He ate slowly – chewing every mouthful fully, resting the spoon on the plate between mouthfuls. He walked slowly. He spoke slowly. He listened. He took time to connect with people, including staff at the supermarket checkout, often oblivious of the person fuming and pounding in the queue behind. He tended to have one big project on at a time, and he took time to do little things with a lot of care.
He actively created space within his day. If he was seeing somebody socially he would make time before and after to prepare, savour and reflect. He allowed time for ideas, intuitions and inspirations to filter up into his consciousness, to listen to them, until they formed a gestalt – thus clarifying a course of action, a piece of writing, a decision.
His day was framed by a rhythm of prayer, two daily walks, time at the desk; writing, a siesta, a slow evening meal. These routine elements ate up quite a lot of the clock-time available, and yet he got a remarkable amount done. I suppose because nothing was rushed he made fewer mistakes, made better decisions and the projects he embarked upon bore fruit.
John 12:24 tells us that unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains but a single grain. But if it dies it bears much fruit. The challenge for me, having lost Robin, is to begin to incarnate his best qualities in my own life. Not least among these is his slow and spacious pace of life.
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