How often I wish I had lived in an earlier time, the period depicted in certain films and books. George F. Kennan, the distinguished statesman and ambassador to Russia, is one of those who wished he had lived 50 or 100 years sooner.
"Life is too full in these times to be comprehensible. We know too many cities to be able to grow into any of them. . . .too many friends to have an real friendships, too many books to know any of them well, and the quality of our impressions gives way to the quantity, so that life begins to seem more like a movie, with hundreds of kaleidoscopic scenes flashing on and off our field of perception, gone before we have time to consider them."
This elegantly phrased reflection was written, believe it or not, in 1927 yet is especially apt today, when many of us long for silence, solitude, a time away from busyness and hurry. We cannot easily take in the big picture of the present age, with all its many competing narratives. We want to slow down the pace of life.
Those who celebrate Lent at this time of year are reminded to put some time aside for contemplation, closing the door to noise and the endless distractions that prevent us from finding either insight or peace.