Springing Forward

hour-glassIt’s one of my favorite times of the day.  It’s nearly 2am.  The streets and surroundings are still.  Lights twinkle from the neighboring buildings.  There’s a slight chill in the air.

And there is silence.

So much hype surrounds me virtually as social media reminds me that a change in daylight-savings-time means that I am about to “spring forward” by one hour.

Pastors worry that their churches will populate at the wrong time—while brunch-goers and golfers are concerned about syncing up with their compatriots for a weekly ritual.

And the passage of time takes on a layered dimension as a cherished hour disappears.

But for me—having grown up on the Navajo Nation, and having spent most of my adult career in East Africa—I measure the passage of time in different ways.

When my parents would plan seminars—on the Navajo Nation—they scheduled them for “Dark-Thirty,” that is 30-minutes after dark.  They had learned that no matter what time they would otherwise choose, delegates would arrive half an hour after sunset.  My parents understood that schedules and priorities were based not upon a mechanical device, but upon an organic reality centuries old.

In Uganda (and in much of East Africa), time is marked by an entirely different numbering system than what people use in the “west.”  Hold on to your hats here.  In East Africa, what you call 7am, is referred to as one o’clock—because it is one hour after sunrise.  And what you call 12 o’clock noon is six o’clock.  Same with midnight.  It is 6 o’clock at night.  Six hours after sunset.

Time is rooted not in a marker in the middle of the day or night, but in the rising of the sun.

And in the setting of the same.

As you “spring forward” today, may the same be true for you.  May you calculate the hours—and minutes—of your life in the language of light, and in the organic measurement of what truly is.

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