Recently, I had a couple of experiences in which it felt as if time stopped. A felt sense of time stopping, not a logical measuring of time. I did not plan to have these experiences, although I certainly was an agent in bringing them about. Let me explain.
The first experience happened unexpectedly. I met up with a friend whom I had not seen in nearly 50 years. We had had a close relationship long ago in elementary school and then middle school, but we had stayed in touch only very sporadically over the years. We really didn’t know who the other had become, but there was a definite mutual interest in catching up. So as it worked out, our paths crossed one crisp, sunny early spring afternoon, and we took the opportunity to meet for a walk in a local park.
We were only together for a couple of hours, but it felt as if time mysteriously stood still. In all, we probably walked a total of three or four miles, but distance was meaningless. If I had planned to go for a 3 or 4 mile walk, knowing me, I would have procrastinated, found other things to do. But this was different. We connected. Awkward at first, not knowing how to start a conversation that had ended almost 50 years ago, we easily slipped into a conversation that flowed with a rhythm as palpable as the steps we took effortlessly and joyfully. There was a sense of seamlessness between our conversation, the sharing of memories, noticing the obvious beauty of our surroundings, and promising to stay in touch as we said our goodbyes. I have little doubt that we will stay in touch. We shared something so special — both created by us, and also created by something that was bigger than us. I have no assurance that we can succeed again at stopping time in the same way. Maybe we can. But no. This felt like a gift — a gift joyfully and gratefully received.
The second experience happened a few days later at a Moody Blues concert at a local theater. The crowd was made up of mostly old folks like me: people who listened to the albums of these wonderful minstrels who flourished during the mid-60’s and 70’s; and now we are all in our mid-60’s and 70’s! It was, by far, the most wonderful concert I have ever attended. The old dudes on stage took us back to when we were young — if only for a few moments. We listened, rocked in place, stood and cheered, sang, and remembered who we were before life happened to us in ways both pleasant and sad. And we forgot for those three hours who we now were — all was timeless. There was only an eternal now, savored and enjoyed and celebrated — at least, until the last chord faded with the applause, and we began heading back into the reality we call our lives.
Both of these experiences are holy moments for me. I cherish them as two of the most important experiences — among many others — in my life. And they cause me to wonder. I wonder whether I can find other opportunities to stop time. These times carry a felt sense of mystery that transcends life, infuses it with meaning and joy, and also a longing for more. If these times are gifts to us, can we not find ways to be open to receiving them so that our lives are enriched and deepened by them? Can you join me in the search? Let me know what you think.