There is a prayer that never fails to move me in the Shabbat service I play for on Friday evenings at West London Synagogue.
'We bless you Adonai... God of the Universe. With a word You change daylight to twilight. You open the morning, endowing the hours with meaning, arranging the changes of season...' it intones.
'Endowing the hours with meaning' … The phrase seems to me a kind of puzzle to be solved, a puzzle that often eludes me.
Time is the currency of 'the hours'. The hourglass is tipped; the sands of time run through it. With what meaning will time be endowed and is it up to us to take charge of the endowment? Will we colour the sands pale blue or yellow, moisten them with water, attempt to restrict their flow? 'No, ' answers the prayer. It is God who will take charge, not us.
So what is our role in this experience of time? Recently I was speaking with a friend to whom I admitted I'd always had a fraught relationship with time. On the one hand I had been taught by circumstance both in my very early life and in my middle years to fear that time would run out, that I couldn't possibly fit the edicts of both others and my own will into what I perceived as a rigid and inflexible container. On the other hand, left with fewer edicts or with a state of mind that had veered away from responding to them, my fear was more of an empty container. A state of no-thingness. Of meaninglessness. My friend simply looked at me and said, 'Maybe you should befriend time.'
Pondering my friend's advice, I wonder if in the act of befriending time, I might find a state of receptivity, curiosity, even gratitude for what is. Just maybe I might reside with the hour, not so much aware of its passing but curious as to what it has to say.