Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

The Clock is Ticking

In Stories, secrets & dreams on February 3, 2014 at 11:14 am


Being in touch with reality includes having a good sense of time. When estimating how long an operation will take, realism is called for. Musicians often practice the same number, first very slowly, then exceedingly rapidly – this enables them to feel it in different ways, and to be more precise in their adherence to the tempo they will choose when it comes time to perform.

We have all experienced how, when a child, one summer can seem like forever. But when an adult, one summer can go by very quickly. That is because for a child the three months are a greater portion of the time he has lived than they are for an adult. But this presupposes that the child looks at the summer months in comparison to his past, not at the past in comparison to the three months of summer.

As we grow older, the reverse is more likely to be true: we look at the past years of our life in comparison to the recent years of our adulthood. When this happens, life seems to have gone by very quickly, and the importance of the immediate present is greatly magnified, much the way the moon, so much closer to us than the sun, appears to be about the same size as the sun, even though it is, in fact, so much smaller.

Along the way, we experience engrossment. We get absorbed in some highly engaging activity, so much so that we neglect to look at the clock. It may seem that only a matter of minutes have transpired, but when we interrupt ourselves and look at the clock – behold!!! several hours have passed. I have experienced this illusory sense of the passage of time on many occasions while playing chamber music.

It can also be said that such engrossment gives us an inkling of what it means to transcend time. It is much like, when reading a novel, one often feels that one is being transported to a far-off land, leaving the earth and her moon, the sun, and even the far-off stars, far behind.

The transcendence of time through death has in times past been understood as meaning that time has been enfolded in eternity, which was taken to be the space-like co-presence of all time. This should not, however, be mistaken to mean that in dying we transcend history; we transcend only the time during which we lived. Our death is our way of taking our place in history, not of nullifying history.

Just as the ticking clock measures our lifetime, just so, the turning world measures the passage of the seasons. Each revolution returns the world to the same starting point as the previous revolution, but each tick is yet another extension of an ever-changing world.

By Walter Ludwig Schubert


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