Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Pressure of Time

Our relationships with time are a good indicator that we are creatures of eternity. We don’t like to be governed by time. “Plenty of time,” has a reassuring sound, so does “No hurry.” The person who is “never in a hurry but always on time” seems like a paragon. We resist deadlines, hate waiting in lines. When we want it, we want it now. When in pain, we want it to stop instantly.

The pressure of time has everything to do with bodies. Resisting the pressure is functionally identical with resisting our urges. Doing so we rise above them—and outside of time. As always, in such matters, obeying the pressure in order to help others appears to be the exception to the rule. When someone is hurt, when the house catches fire—the sirens will sound. But helping others, and in quicktime, is also to transcend time. It demands that we put aside our narrower aims for a higher one.

Here also we find the logic for the Catholic concept of the mortification of the flesh. Modernity views that sort of thing with revulsion and contempt—in part because over-zealous and excessive practices in the past have left lurid images. To be sure. It’s possible to overdo everything, even the good and needful. Nevertheless, when we look at any kind of spiritual endeavor, we shall discover in it an effort to transcend the material realm; it is nearest to us in our bodies.

We have a wonderful little Sunbeam water heater—obtained because the %@#$ microwave oven took ever so long to heat a cup’s worth of water. Our Sunbeam produces a cupful of boiling water in about a minute and fifteen seconds. My days start by using it. And, ridiculous as this may sound, that minute causes me daily aggravation. Why? Well, the freeze-dried Taster’s Choice is in the cup with cream and sweetener in much less than that minute, and then I have to endure the agony of waiting!! Therefore, daily, I engage in resisting time. Plenty more opportunities, every day, to practice virtue. Almost anything at all gives me opportunities. I don’t need a pole to stand and live on—nor lashes on my naked back with leather thongs. Time itself provides unending stimulus to fight its downward pull.

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