There is a term the folk living in this desert have that is a misnomer, I suppose, of sorts. They are quite proud of it and what it means to them in lived actuality. They call it something akin to "desert time."
What it means is that they do not stick to any time frame, such as if they say they will be at work or pick up something being sold used, they do not show up on time or often enough, at all. The lay and secular people find it to be stylish, and someone once tried to explain it to me--how wonderful it was to be so free--as I had put off doing some tasks so that I'd be free when someone had said he'd come to do an odd job for which he wanted a-plenty per hour.
I waited and waited and waited. I called and called. No show, no response. A person who happened to be in my hermitage to help with some lifting (and had shown up, obviously, but delighted in explaining how "awesome" is "desert time" and that I must get with it!) explained that people in these parts just go with the flow and practically intentionally don't stick to the time frame they have chosen or said. And, furthermore, everyone knows that and goes along with it--desert time!
This nothing consecrated Catholic hermit asked, "Isn't that sort of unkind to the person who is waiting and wondering for hours and sometimes for a day, or maybe forever in some cases?"
"Oh, no, it is actually very kind--the way desert time works. Since the other people know that the person is on desert time and might show up a couple hours later or the next day, it gives them even more time to do whatever they might be doing."
I call it desert rude and desert irresponsible (but only in the silence of solitude, sharing my take on desert time with God).
Today a woman was to come between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to pick up some dirt-cheap windows I had listed for sale. They would cost $140 or more, new, and these were excellent condition--just too small for the hermitage renovation, so had removed and replaced.
I hauled the windows from the pole barn around 10:30 a.m. and had them by the front gate, and waited. I waited, and waited, and then needed a pain break and rest. Around 2:30 p.m. I called to ask if she still wanted them. "Definitely" she said, and would be over soon.
I waited, and waited, and waited, doing little tasks but not able to get started in anything of duration like painting a ceiling. A man called, inquiring if I still had the windows as he really wanted them. I said someone else was supposedly coming but had not yet, and I'd call her, and give her an hour. He was already wanting to come immediately and purchase--good deal that they were.
So I called the lady a third time and asked her if she was still coming, and that someone else wants them, and I told him to give her an hour. If she still did not come, he could buy them. The lady was put out a bit and mentioned she'd have to set aside what she was into, doing, and would come. She made it barely within the hour. I had started spreading more mulch out by the fence, keeping an eye out for her.
I then called the man back and said the woman did indeed come; the windows were sold. I am not what anyone could diagnose as obsessive compulsive nor am I the saint of charity by a long shot. However, I do not want to ever catch this disease akin to desert time.
Then there is a point about dishonesty I'd like to make. Granted, last week was rather chaotic with oddities occurring in just trying to get the proper scan scheduled in a place where there was a working phone number, and then also counting on the neighbor boy to come to work on the times agreed upon.
Friday morning I had the scan at the hospital imaging center. The lad called me, and I said I'd be back at the hermitage around 2:15 (but I do not call it that to others since I am hermit, hidden in that regard from the eyes of men, women, and children!). If he could come over at 2:30, we'd get to work! He agreed. I said I'd call again to let him know for sure that I was back. Seems a kind thing to do, in case something would happen--save him walking the distance to my little place.
I called. No answer. I left a message. A couple hours later I called again. No answer. I left a message that since it is difficult to get in touch, or perhaps something had happened to them, I would leave it that I am here, now no need to be going anywhere into the distant future. He can come whenever he wants to work, or he also can call and let me know his schedule.
The next day, the lad came over, apologized for not showing up the day before, said he'd forgotten. He then said he could not work the next week because his grandparents were coming to visit. How long? He was not sure--maybe a week. So I said to enjoy his grandparents, and let me know if he wants to work after they leave.
This afternoon when out mulching by the road, I happened to see the lad out riding his bike with another boy, backpacks, heading off. Ironically, the neighbor lad turned around as he must have sensed me down the way, and I smiled and waved. So much for having to be on hand for the grandparents.
Now, there may be excellent reasons for the dishonesty. For one thing, it may seem odd to have an older person in much solitude, renovating a fixer-upper, tending gardens, being a goat on top of the pole barn painting the roof and slip-sliding along. Also, with the recent health issue and my needing to go to a hospital emergency room, and then the subsequent PET Scan, they may not want to "be involved." It was not as if they were, but they had decided that I was not an emergency and exclaimed that even the EMS would never take me.
Why? I was able to stand and to verbalize. Of course, a little over a day later amid more agony, the EMS was insistent I needed to ride in their vehicle. And well I did need to go, as it turned out. I would have called them sooner had I known it was free of charge due to the distance into civilization. Tax dollars at work.
However, regarding my neighbor lad, it would have been as well and of course much better, had he just said he did not want to work, after all. I would understand. He is young, and even though the pay on the high side (because young people in this area of the desert do not like to work, and this boy seemed an anomaly), they are a family quite well off.
Still, dishonesty does not settle well with me, even when a kid or his mother are trying to seem kind or such. Did they think simply saying, "I don't want to work this summer, after all"" would be unkind?
I'm praising God for the little touch of grace this afternoon, of the lad turning around while pedaling off, seeing me smile and wave. Caught in the lie, he was, and I know he is a sensitive enough soul that he will realize a bit of sting. And I, the hermit next door of whom they would never guess am a consecrated religious solitary nor know that I am Catholic, even, has been praying for this family.
And I am praying for this thing called something like "desert time" and the people who live by it. One might think that it is akin to living in the Order of the Present Moment. But no, it is far from it. For desert time, or whatever one wants to term it, involves rudeness and irresponsibility. At root it is selfish, unfocused, uncharitable, and silly.
As for this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit, once again I see that the Lord is asking of me to do the work here solus Deus, God alone, and to allow Him to help me in ways He chooses. And for now that is quite at a snail's pace, and with increased bodily pain to which to adapt. Call upon the Lord, and He will answer! God is with us, always.
The Order of the Present Moment flows freely, yes. But in the Order of the Present Moment, the Gospel Rule and the greatest of the command to love God above all else and others as Jesus loves us, is the operational condition. And in the Order of the Present Moment, all is on God's time yet in respectful truth and goodness.
God Bless His Real Presence in us, little children! We are all in this life together; let us consider love of one another as Christ loves us. Ah, but that can be the rub: we may not know of or grasp or think of or feel Christ's love, so we may not know how to love others as we are loved. Always much to pray about, all the more!