By Awara Fernandez
Years ago, when my husband and I were first getting to know one another, he said to me,
“Awara, if you had been Moses, you would have arrived in the Promised Land 40 days
instead of 40 years after the Exodus, and God would have greeted you by saying, ‘Hi,
Awara. Good to see you.’ Then, looking over your shoulder He would have asked, ’Where’s
And, when I was serving as a church choir and orchestra director, I pared down the
Christmas portion of Handel’s “Messiah” to 32 minutes in order to fit it into the Sunday
morning worship service, which meant that I had to really speed up those tempos and cut
out all of the repeats. All of them. But, seriously, weren’t you listening the first time?
Now this quick time girl is going to be a grandmother, and I am thinking about time. Not
like a scientist thinks, not like my brilliant engineer of a brother thinks, but more like a
Whovian remembering the words of their Time Lord, “People assume that time is a strict
progression of cause to effect. But, actually, from a nonlinear, non-subjective viewpoint,
it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey . . . stuff.”*
Well then, what makes time wobble?
Rebecca K. Reynolds (thistleandtoad.com) says, “Lately I’ve had to hold papers far back to
see them. My close vision is leaving me, even though the doctor told me my eyes were
young for my age. I’m going to have to get readers, which will slow things down, like
sciatica slows things down, like looking back on life slows things down.” And, I could relate
immediately because for three years now I have had plantar fasciitis and this really slows
me down. Everything takes longer. I have reduced grocery shopping, washing clothes, and
making dinner to cost versus benefit equations where cost is measured in degrees of foot
pain. Every step must be weighed in the balance. Pain slows time.
So does gratitude. Ann Voskamp (onethousandgifts.com) teaches that thankfulness, which
requires being fully present in the moment, has the effect of slowing time.
And, children offer the gift of Slow Time. I admit that I have been reluctant to accept
this gift because of the extra piles of laundry and stacks of dirty dishes that kept me spinning, and I suspect that somewhere there is an entire roomful of boxes of Slow Time that I left unopened during the years of raising my children. I think this is true because there was one box, one day, that I did open.
I still remember it, the day before my second daughter, Amanda, was born. Sensing she
was coming soon, I decided to devote myself fully to my firstborn, Kathryn, that
afternoon. She and I walked around the block in our neighborhood, a walk that we had
taken many times before, but this time I stopped, without complaint or urging, every time
(Every. Time.) Kathryn paused to study a rock, or to laugh at a small flower hiding in the
cracked curb cement.
Next, we went to our “Pooh Bridge” to play “Poohsticks.” Actually, our bridge was just a
few planks of wood arranged over a dribble of a creek. Standing on one side of the bridge
we would let small sticks drop from our hands and then simply turn around to watch them
float out under the other side of the bridge.
Last, and best of all, because Kathryn could never get enough of this, I helped her climb
into her backyard swing, and I pushed her over and over again (Again, Mommy!) into the
rising moon of a cold February Thursday. Out of more than two decades of parenting
days, I remember that One Day. Such is the gift of Slow Time.
And, I’ve heard that grandparents are somehow able to receive the gift of Slow Time.
They don’t say, “hurry up!” And, grandparents would never hack out Handel’s repeats.
They relish repeats (Again, Grandmommy!) Perhaps the silver in their hair is simply what
we can see of the fairy dust that has transformed them into Slow Time people. Perhaps it
is as Rebecca says, that “looking back slows things down,” and grandparents have more to
look back on than parents do. Perspective slows time. Perhaps grandparents are also
looking forward more keenly to the Eternal as it hovers increasingly more near to them.
If little girls are made up of “sugar and spice and everything nice,” while little boys are
made up of “snakes and snails and puppy dog tails,” then maybe grandparents are a mix of
pain, and gratitude, and children, and perspective all stirred up together in a recipe for
Slow Time. Grandparents just may be another class of Time Lord who remember their
stretched past, relish their slow present, and regard their shimmering future as they
enjoy an unhurried walk Home.
“O Lord (the true Time Lord), “teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of
wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
*Dr. Who Number 10, 2007