Last night, as we lay in bed debriefing of the day, Shirin breathed with fatigue, "the last year has been a blur. I feel like I've lost a whole year. The only fun times I remember are our trip to Monterey and the Story Seminar."
"Where did the time go?"
"Time flew by."
These common phrases reveal a bigger problem. We live our lives at a blinding pace and do not build rest and reflection into the rhythm of our lives. Here are the problems with this way of living.
1. We miss the flavors. When we don't take time to savor all that happens in the course of a day or a week or a month, it's like eating without tasting. The flavors, colors, textures...the time, thought and preparation that went into a meal are all lost. When I was a university student and Phi Sig fraternity member, a bell would ring and 40 guys would thunder down the stairs, grab a seat and fill their plates as quickly as possible. The feeding frenzy would be over in 10 minutes. There was no tasting in that #7 Fraternity Row dining room at the University of Maryland.
Shirin and I spent 1993-2000 living in Massy, France, just south of Paris. One of the great gifts of those years in France was "la gastronomie." The art of enjoying a meal. I never became particularly skilled at the preparing part, but have ever since appreciated the receiving end of a gorgeous meal. No matter where I go, I am usually the last one to push back from the dinner table.
2. We dishonor God. When we gloss over his gifts, we dishonor the Giver. If every conversation, encounter, completed task, workout, sunrise, etc is a gift, we should be grateful for them. One of the most concrete forms of gratitude is remembering. Remember the 10th leper. Drew Sams told me that the word "remember" is used twice as much as the word "trust" and five times more than the word "believe" in Scripture. There is something to this. See what God has to say about this in Deuteronomy 8.
Three suggestions for remembering
Here are the ways that I try to be intentional about remembering. It's never too late to get started. I have become much more intentional in the last five years of my life (I am 52).
1. Remember the Sabbath. Keep it holy. God established it for his worship and our well-being. You need this more than you know. Don't fill this day with work or activity. Here's my typical Sunday. Saturday night is the night I usually get 8-9 hours sleep. Come Sunday morning, I sit in the green recliner in my office and review the week. It's the one morning we usually have a family breakfast together. We leave for Saddleback Church at 10:45 AM (we like not having a rushed morning). Everyone is on their own for lunch. I will read for several hours (the news, a book). Sometimes I nap, though I don't like it because I usually nap for two hours and it takes a big bite out of the day. We have family dinner together and then usually hang out in the evening.
2. Capture where you have been and what you have done. This could be a journal, a photo journal or keeping of artifacts. For me, the calendar is the best way to do this. I've never been able to do any kind of consistent journaling. But I have been a good time manager which means keeping a log of where my time went. I am a big fan of the calendar in the cloud. I use the calendar on my iPhone to not only plan my future but capture what I've done.
After an event, I will put in several words or remarks that will help distinguish that event from other events when I go back to remember (e.g. Tom Kang preached, his big ideas was "the days are long, but the years are short"). I do that as I go throughout the day. I will go back at the end of a week, month, or sometimes a year to review where I've been. This is the bulletproof answer to the timeless question "where did the time go?" This post explains in more detail how I do time travel.
3. Unplug. Take mini-sabbaths that last 3 to 5 minutes. Stop what you're doing, lift your eyes up, (or simply close them) and let your brain rest.
Remembering helps us read our own story. Knowing where we've been helps us better understand where God may be leading us. Remembering sets us apart from the rest of creation. We exercise our imago Dei when we choose to remember.