Our culture is on a quest toward an unprecedented speed and efficiency that would cause our ancestors (or even our grandparents!) to stand dumbfounded at what they see. I am amazed at how quickly we can send our thoughts to one another via the internet. How fast our cars can go. How instantly our needs are met through technology.
James and I are in Atlanta, on our way to Kenya by way of Amsterdam. The entire voyage takes about 30 hours, which compared to travelers a hundred years ago, is practically like lightning speed. However, for those of us living in 2012, sitting in crammed seats with weird food and high passenger-to-toilet ratios while we coast over the Atlantic is a very long journey.
I am increasingly aware of the quick pace of the American life. We take 15 waking hours each day and splice them up into scattered intervals - half of which we are doing simply because everyone else is doing them and not because we think it is the most healthy or flourishing way to live.
We desire to see the world around us keep up with our pace, and it's hard to know if we are victims of an urgency culture or if we are the ones responsible for creating that expectation. We celebrate when a technology allows us to perform a duty faster. It allows us to check something else off the list and get to the next one quicker. But we ought to also mourn the loss of something very perennial as human beings.
In America, clean water comes at the turn of a tap. It comes so quickly and easily that we don't realize what a privilege it is to have at our fingertips. We don't notice it. We simply consume it.
Thirty hours from here, I will be entering communities that have waited generations for access to clean water. And when it does come, it comes slowly. Village committees are formed, trainings are held, rocks and sand are dredged from rivers and walked by ox cart. It is rarely accessible in a personal home, and the water source is communal. People gather around it. They use their amount wisely and see it for the gift that it is.
So, despite the long journey that we are about to undertake, I am thankful for being a prisoner of time and limitation, even for just the next 30 hours. Our relationship to time, expediency and one another is something we ought to wrestle with over the long-haul, and not just for a fleeting moment.