How to Inhabit Time

Some excerpts from How to Inhabit Time, by James K.A. Smith

By contrast, spiritual timekeeping is characterized by a dynamism of keeping time with the Spirit.

Dynamics of time are important for one’s own spiritual life: to recognize, for example, seasons of a life with God, when the Spirit sometimes speaks…almost inaudibly [requires] one to discern what God asks of us in such a season—what God is doing in us in such a season. Hence, the wisdom and discernment of spiritual timekeeping is integral to a life well-lived.

To be temporally aware of our creaturehood is to wear mortality comfortably. To live mortally, we might say, is to receive gifts by letting go, finding joy in the fleeting present. This is temporal contentment: to inhabit time with eyes wide open hands outstretched, not to grasp but to receive, enjoy, and let go.

Christian timekeeping is like a dance on a tightrope: on the one hand, we are called to inhabit time in a way that stretches us, to be aware of so much more than now. As a traditioned people, mindful of our inheritances, we live futurally looking for kingdom come. On the other hand, we always live in the present.

What I’m calling the art of spiritual timekeeping [is] living out the faith with a disciplined temporal awareness.

We will become attuned to the Scriptures differently when we hear from those who’ve experienced a different history from our own. My accrued experience — including suffering and trails, accomplishments and conversions — tills the soil of my redemption in new ways. The more we imagine our timekeeping tethered to friendship tending, the more we will learn how to inhabit time faithfully.

To live eschatologically is not just a matter of looking toward the future. It is not simply a posture of expectation. It is to live futurally, to inhabit the present in such a way that the future is the beating heart of my now.