Time, That Old Master….

Just thinking….

See this picture? It’s the Hubs and me by the wonderfully colored maple in our front yard. It’s how we look right now, in 2010, and it’s how the maple looks this fall. But I have not always looked like this, and neither, I imagine, has the maple. Time has had its way with both of us.

I have been wrestling with “Time” and his evil twin, “Gravity.” When I was young, they used to let me think I was winning. No more. Time is coming at me, no holds barred, from many directions and gravity continues to hold me as a prisoner.

Physically, time and gravity are tugging at my chin, the bags under my eyes, the wings on my upper arms, and everything between neck and knees. But hey! I still have good hair and my toes look as good as ever! I knew this part of the struggle was coming, as I watched my mother and grandmothers age with dignity. So I just want to deal with it, and secretly, I want to win…. I want to control time. I want to be the boss!

The unexpected move was in my thought process, which spills over into my spiritual realm. My life has been controlled by time: bed time, getting-up time, meal time, time to catch the bus, time for church, time to pay taxes…. When I studied piano and flute, I had to keep time, and I measured time as regular intervals. Not only could I keep time, I could also save time, and spend time. As a teacher, I found my working days controlled by time: warning bell @ 7:35. Tardy bell @ 7:40. Homeroom over at 8:00. First class @ 8:05. My minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, seasons and years were ordered. The clock ticked away my life.

And I had a clock in every room: the alarm by the bed, the wind-up antique in the living room, the digital microwave timer….. and all reminded me of the fleeting nature of life. Calendars were similar: the desk calendar by the computer, the one hanging on the fridge, the little stick on calendar in the car, and again, all remind me of how fast life is moving.

Clocks and calendars gave me beginnings and endings. When period 6 ended, period 7 began. When Christmas ended, New Year’s began. When I turned 40, age 39 ended. This led me to other observations on beginnings and endings: beginnings of relationships, endings of the same, beginnings of maturity, endings of death. I began to see the world and life as simply beginnings and endings. Time is relentless, marching steadily in a foward pattern, and gravity reminds me of the passing and heaviness of time.

My Bible has even referred to this: “In the beginning….”. I can verify this. Just outside my window is heaven and earth, created in the beginning. I see the seasons pass outside my window; right now the brilliant flame-burst of leaves is making its last hurrah. The trees will pass into dormancy, and then burst again with life in the spring. Sunset, sunrise, all the same, day after day. Time is measured in repeating patterns .

But that window….. The window is in a way an ending: an ending of the house. The beautiful outdoors is a beginning. Yet it will end where the next building begins. And so the pattern goes. As I reflect, I realize that every single thing I know of life is wrapped up in time and beginnings and endings. Everything, even life itself. My first breath, my last breath: beginnings and endings and life in between.

I used to do a fun exercise with my St. Louis University students. I would ask one of them to walk across the room. When he was about half way across, I asked him to stop and look behind him. Could he see the space that he had traveled? Yes. Could he see the space that lay before him? Yes. Had he passed through this space? Yes. Had he also passed through time? Yes. Could he see the time that he had passed through? Um…… no. Could he see the time that lay ahead? Again…. No. This led into a discussion of déjà vu, seers and prophets, and ultimately, a discussion and definition of time. It led to some interesting thinking and writing. One point was that time seems to be linear, although some wonder if perhaps it might be spiral shaped. Another is that so much of our language refers to time: “Time is passing. It’s about time. For the last time….” A third point is that time seems to exist only in our memories. I can anticipate something in the future, but it is based on my memory of something in the past. I look at my clock but only see marks that time is gone or that time will come.

And if time exists only in our memories, then what about eternity? That is what really boggles my mind. In a world of beginnings and endings, how can I comprehend something that never ends? How can I measure eternity, given that I tend to measure everything in life? How can I understand existence where time is meaningless and non-existent? How do I take in the dimensions of God, who created time in the beginning, yet exists unbounded by time? What will it be like when time is no more? When there are no more boundaries? When time and gravity are gone?

As a Christian, I am pretty excited by eternity. It’s awesome to think of never being scolded by the clock again, never having to see the age lines etched into my face, never watching erosion, and to endlessly be in the presence of God, praising Him. But I must admit, it still is beyond my understanding. I just believe that it will be. Forever. Everlasting. Ageless. Infinite. Eternity……

And now, Time, you old specter, pull back your scythe! Gravity, I defy you!

Father, Praise be to Your holy name. Such power You have that You spoke the world and time into being, and that when You are ready, time will be no more. Meanwhile, help me redeem the time.

To God be the glory,

Published in: on October 30, 2010 at 9:25 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Diana, as always you inspire me. How wonderful it is to have you as a friend, even though I never write. I know that our friendship is eternal …timeless.

  2. Marilyn, Neither time nor space will erode our friendship. I would love to see you again, have lunch again at Max and Erma’s house with you and Chris. But we may have to wait until…..?

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