Monday, December 10, 2012

Living Inside of Time

Life-long learning means that sometimes I find a huge gap in my education that needs to be filled.  How did it happen that I somehow missed ever knowing the name Ruth Gruber?

Last night, sitting in my thickest socks, drinking tea with a blanket and a head cold, I watched the brilliant Ruth Gruber in a documentary of her life called Ahead of Time.  While I leaned closer to hear the mind blowing story of her life, my heart leaped at several points, the first being the moment when she tells her father that she doesn't want to be a secretary or a teacher, but a writer.  The second was when she described this concept of "living inside time."

During my journey with the Religious Society of Friends, I've discovered the benefits of waiting, patience, sitting, and silence.  But this concept of time was new to me, even though it made perfect sense.  Today, as a way to open the workweek, I want to share a passage from the introduction of Gruber's book Inside of Time.

     "It was on my first trip to Alaska during WWII that I learned to live "inside of time."  I might be sitting in a place like Nome.  I would send a radio message to Anchorage for a bush pilot to pick me up and fly me to Point Barrow.

     The answer would come back--- "See you Tuesday, WEAPERS."  "WEAPERS" meant weather permitting.  Tuesday came.  The next Tuesday came.  Then the next, but no bush pilot. Usually it was the weather.  Or the pilot was sick or on a binge.

     Until that fateful voyage, I had been a restless fighter against time. If the elevated train from my shtetl in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to Manhattan was a few minutes late, I screamed at it under my breath like a longshoreman.

     Now, instead of sending my blood pressure rocketing, I began to use the days and weeks of waiting.  Wherever my lap was became my desk.  I could fill more pages in my notebooks, send more reports to Harold L. Ikes, secretary of the interior---for whom I was working as field representative and later as special assistant---and interview more people, especially the Eskimos, whose serenity and affirmation of life I so admired.

     Time was no longer my enemy. Now it enveloped me, liberated me.  Living in a magical circle of space and energy helped fuel my love of words and images, the tools with which I would later fight injustice."

This new teacher in Ruth is a gift to me.  I'm learning that my impatience is not helping me to accomplish anything.  And to have a new concept of time as we head closer to Christmas is such a blessing.  I vow not to get caught up in the mania of trying to create some kind of magic in our house, when this season really is about the coming of Christ the Lord.  I never feel ready for this. 

This expectant, waiting time is a challenge. I want to have peace in my heart and not stress.  I've learned how to use anger as fuel for creating good things and see my complex emotions as sparks for transformation and forgiveness.  The next step is to use impatience as fuel for learning how to live inside of time.

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