Last year it occurred to me that every true artist is a prophet, and I’ve been asking God if this is true. In the height of the pandemic pandemonium, I was on a gloriously unbothered walk in my small local park and listening to When The End Comes by Andrew Belle. What stood out to me was this lyric:

I see you’re locked down inside of your head
you’ve gotten tangled up in your own web
your right is wrong, your flight is grounded . . .

This, while the world was in ‘lock down’ with fists instead of flights in the air.
The next verse starts with:

looks like you’re living out on an island
did you leave a number where I would find it
you get along, your head is clouded
your lungs are full of air, but you’re drowning, drowning . . .

So I wondered. Particularly when I remembered some of the songs I have written that came from what I’ve seen in dreams. I’ve always been drawn to indie-folk and less than mainstream music. As I developed as a writer myself, I came to recognize in my own work that quality I was drawn to . . . riddles of true things that only make sense to a listener with ears to hear . . . parables, if you will. One such song that has stirred up deep things in me since the first time I heard it is Let It Be Sung by Jack Johnson, Zach Gill, and Matt Costa:

there must be a forecast that you won’t let yourself see
so you keep watching as you’re driftin’,

sail away from what you need

why don’t I just give you everything you’ll take from me
’cause nobody owns anything if everyone is free
. . .

I’ve been paying attention to what other artists say, comedians included. Because so much of what is presented as satire and bizarre comes to bear as reality merely months later. Years, or decades, or centuries later. I’ve been pitching a theory about this regarding Even Stevens {from the Disney Channel} and younger siblings. I laughed at that show in hilarity because it was so outrageous and far from reality . . . as if kids could really do those things and get away with it. My decade-younger little brother who watched the show beside me experienced the self-fulfillment of those episodic prophecies as his middle-school reality, coming home with “juicy” stories of the antics of his peers. So maybe artists and entertainers are prophets to the people, as it’s been said before. Especially when you consider that God’s specific plan for your life and the gifts that correspond to it don’t just go away if you choose something else . . .

What this has to do with time, I’ll get to . . . I think. But the other thought I was having that I later saw spilled across the pages of a recent issue of The Surfer’s Journal was that of The Algorithm . . . and how the more you lean into your natural inclinations, bucking against the closing-in walls of the mainstream echo chamber and you might like this suggestions, the longer and more effectively you evade its grasp. The more closely you listen to your conscience and resist, the more human and Imago Dei you remain. For me, evasion has been analog exemptions. Pen to paper, printed books, and the battery operated clock I came across at Lidl not too long ago. I set it up this morning at 7:55 and thought of how we started a clock when Eve reached for fruit from the eyes-only tree; the act that made our telomeres unravel . . .

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the second-hand doesn’t tick. It’s a cycle of silent, fluid movement. None of this maniacal reminding me that every second passing won’t come back. Can’t be recovered. Rather, I am reminded that time is better kept by dancing. Slowing down in life makes it last longer. And besides all that, as a Believer I’m not actually running out of time. I last forever. We all do, but only in the presence of King Jesus will that be a good thing. The easy-gliding second-hand keeps me focused. There is work to be done, and there is time to do it. There is grace to breathe in every moment of the day.

Once upon a summer break my older brother was trying to teach the youngest two siblings to swim. As the three of them returned from the pool in mutual frustration, he locked them outside the door of our family’s apartment to demonstrate how long it takes to drown. In my own life I have found that crisis is best managed without panic. The pressure of time often lies.

To my unintentionally coordinated delight, the newest issue of The Surfer’s Journal has a similar color aesthetic to the clock I just bought, and the first article is a reflection on time by Norris Eppes {Melt That Clock}. The notes I wrote in the margins – quantifying life, feeding souls and minds.

Eppes and the writers he cites point out that “once time became money, our finite amount of it on this Earth in the single life we know we have could be put into blocks and sold and bought and spent.” Societies shifted from an episodic concept of time, “measured by actions, rather than action being measured by time.” This I found particularly fascinating and disturbing:

The seeds of change were planted in the fourteenth century, when towns in medieval Europe began building clock towers – usually funded by the local guild of merchants. These merchants also put human skulls on their desks as memento mori, or reminders that one day they would die. This is when the idea of time as money was conceived, though it really kicked off in the Industrial Revolution …

Melt That Clock, Norris Eppes

When conceptualized by lovers of money fixated on quantifying life,* time became a tyrant. But those of us who feed souls and minds and bodies – “artists, writers, small famers” – seem more naturally inclined toward episodic, task-measured time. An unhurried, grace-paced rhythm of existence. Focused, fluid movements; not punctuated ticks.

Time better measured in meals and music and memories.

. . . & &

*not that all businessmen are covetous ones

3 responses to “clock thoughts”

  1. This point… “God’s specific plan for your life and the gifts that correspond to it don’t just go away if you choose something else . . .” is something I’ve been wrestling with a lot lately. Partly because I don’t like when I can’t see the plan clearly, but also there’s the thought of wasting time trying to make other things work because they appear to make more sense to my limited human mind. As a person who needs to feel in control of things to feel safe, unwavering faith has not been my strongest quality (though I’m working on it). Uncertainty makes me want to hide and the world moves too fast for my liking. Lately, I have been spending more time in search of ways to cultivate the “unhurried, grace-paced rhythm of existence” you mention… maybe that’s God’s plan for my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can relate! I have found that slowing down allows me to be more sensitive to God’s voice, which in turn provides more clarity about His plans and purposes. Although faith is still required, the process of slowing down and cultivating intimacy with God alleviates so much of the stress and fear of control because you start to see and understand more of His love for you which makes trusting come more naturally.

      In addition to scripture {Colossians 1:9-11 is so good!}, these books have been really helpful to me in recent years as it pertains to the related concepts of slowing down/grace-paced living and hearing from God:

      An Unhurried Life • Alan Fadling
      Drawing Near • John Bevere
      The Reset • Jeremy Riddle

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for the book recommendations! Somehow, fall seems like the perfect time of year to delve into books about slowing down, so I’ll be adding at least one of these to my reading list this year. I spend so much time rushing my days, and definitely needed this reminder to slow down. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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