There is a voice I sometimes hear that brushes by the ear of my soul like the flutter of a butterfly’s wing and breathes, “There’s more.”
At least that’s what I think it whispers, what I think I sense. The sound is so faint, like the words a person speaks as they turn away and your ear can’t quite reach out to grasp them before they fade away just in front of you, just out of reach. Then the person is gone before you can ask what it was they said.
Sometimes I lean into that empty space and I do ask, “What was that?”
But I’m only met with silence and an internal restlessness.
Who is it I expect to answer? Myself? The ceramic owl that looks at me from my bookshelf? God?
Instead of an answer, I hear the second hand of the oversized clock on my wall counting out time. It asks its own questions. Thirty minutes have passed, what have you done? Why did you spend two hours watching a movie you’ve seen so many times you can recite all the lines? What’s next?
But I have no answers for that old clock, or for myself. I only have a feeling that there’s something coming, something else, something more---something I want to be ready for, but it's not quite here yet. Like I’m feeling the vibration of the ground before a train arrives.
(Photo Credit: Deb Turnow)
Car accidents. They occur under different circumstances, in different places, and at different times. Survivors can walk away with minor cuts and bruises or they can come very close to losing their lives. As their stories are told, there are pieces that sound remarkably similar. Moments before and during the impact, they notice fine details of the scene—what the other driver was wearing, the color of the other car, the expression on the driver’s face, the view of the guard rail, what they were thinking, how they were feeling...
In one way or another, time seemed to slow down or pause.
But how is that possible? During accidents, things are moving fast. Really fast in some cases. Death can be a breath away. Yet, people notice details that moments before were unseen or were at least a blur.
I think it may have something to do with our level or our degree of presence. Somehow, presence seems to influence time.
In those split seconds just before and during an accident, the people involved were exquisitely present. They weren’t thinking about their day or what happened last week or what they needed to do next week. Everything else fell away and they were one hundred percent in the moment. Time slowed down and they were able to notice details.
This phenomenon happens at other times in our lives too—when we receive a diagnosis, when we find out a loved one has died, when a child is born, when we fall in love…everything else drops away and we are fully present.
What would life be like if we could live more and more in that degree of presence? What details would we see and how would our experiences and our relationships change?
Maybe this slowing of time is a taste of what happens in eternity. But there we aren’t just fully present for glimpses of time. We are so fully present to God (the Supreme Presence) that time doesn’t just pause, it stops existing altogether.
(Photo Credit: Deb Turnow)
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Nicole Mills is an oncology nurse, cancer survivor, nerd, and contemplative. She has a secret desire to be a nun or a double-dutch jump rope champion. Not being Catholic or able to jump 2 ropes poses significant hurdles, but she remains hopeful.