Prior to my last semester in seminary, I went on a two week “Cross Cultural Experience” to Cherokee, NC. This worked out well because my masters thesis was on the impact of Christianity on the Cherokee culture. It was a great two weeks and even today I reminisce as I gaze upon the Blue Ridge Mountains.
As wonderful as the experience was, it was frustrating at times because I had to adapt to the “Indian” way of doing things (I’m using their term). We were partnered with a local pastor named Sol and he was to begin his work with us (I traveled with a fellow classmate) the next morning at 9 am so that we could do in-home rural visitations. The following morning I woke up, got ready, and waited by the front door. Literally two hours later, Sol showed up. He said “hello” and, without any kind of “sorry I’m late,” we merely got into his vehicle and went about our day.
The following two days were the same – he would give us a time, then he’d drift in around two hours later. This schedule-oriented girl was gritting her teeth and was about to go nuts. I must have been really bad at hiding my frustrations because Sol explained to me the merits of “Indian Time.” Apparently he, nor many other Cherokee, wore watches. They just “get there when they get there.” He encouraged me to take my watch off and give it a try during the remaining days of this trip. I prayed about it and decided it was worth a try. I mean, honestly, Sol was literally THE most laid back and calm person I’d ever met. If I could get just an ounce of that calm in my life I’d be doing good .
It took about three days for me to not care about what time it was. It was bizarre, really. I remember the first morning waking up in a panic because I had no idea what time it was, if I was late or not, or anything. I had restless sleep for worrying about when to wake up. But, after a few days, I slept like a rock. And, honestly, trying to acclimate to my school routine after getting home was tough and I missed “Indian Time.” I missed it a lot.
My next post will contradict this a little, but let me share with you the merits of “Indian Time” just in case you need some peace in your life:
- Living without a watch made me live in the “now” instead of focusing on what comes next (I love the quote “Be here now”)
- Living without a watch allowed me the freedom to arrive on my time – sometimes I think we push ourselves to get to a place earlier than we are meant to. I believe we should arrive when we are truly ready to get there.
- Living without a watch allowed for quality time talking with people. Even today I have to remember to focus on what is being said by other people when in my head I’m thinking of what time I need to get to my next thing. In Cherokee I sat and talked with people for hours and never cared what time it was. It was bliss. I miss that.
- Finally, living without a watch gave me the alone time I needed to meditate and pray – and do those things without the burden of time limits. I reconnected with God in a deep way over those two weeks. Living without time constraints was worth it for that reason alone.
Now I’m not advocating that we all throw away our alarm clocks and blow off work, school, appointments, etc. Rather, I’m sharing this with you as I sit in my hotel room at Annual Conference, gazing at the mountains, and realizing the importance of being. I have found that the schedules and time constraints get in the way of being who I need to be at times. Losing the watch is definitely a good place to start. Or, at least, schedule in time to go without the watch .