Time; is waiting in the wings*
This newsletter was inspired by Shoshana Boyd Gelfand on Radio 4’s Something Understood. We cannot taste, touch, smell, hear or feel time, but we are very conscious of it. Clocks, phones, alarms, deadlines, appointments, days, months, years and seasons time ticks by. Time was born at the same point as the universe at the big bang; interestingly in the bible there is a Hebrew word Olam which can mean both time and space, both the physical world and eternity. Poetry, science and religion describe time and space as intertwined. We experience its passing in the physical world, days, months, years. We can see the effects on our bodies and faces, strength and stamina.
Some time is circular, measured in seasons, some time is linear, the arc of a human life, we are born, grow, mature, age and die. Ancient agrarian civilisations were in touch with circular time, life measured by the regular sowing, growing, harvesting and fallow periods in crop rotation.
At some point the ancient Jews began to speculate on the arrival of the Messiah and a time when everything would be better, a triumphant future to be anticipated and worked towards. We began to believe that things can improve; we anxiously reflect and pick over the past, what did we do? Could we have done it differently? How will this affect our future, can it inform our hypothetical future? Zen Buddhism focuses on the now, this moment, not looking either forwards or backwards. This moment, now, the colour, smell, sight, sound and texture of it. This intense moment now, breathe it, feel it, experience it, live it. Biological clocks are difficult to ignore, our fertility is lost, hair goes grey, skin sags and muscles weaken.
Time is encoded into our brains, there isn’t one place it is housed it is all pervasive. In a culture that celebrates youth we are inclined to mask the signs of ageing but could we be taught
“to number our days, that we may apply
our hearts unto wisdom” p90:12
Could we look time squarely in the face and see the grey hairs and saggy bits as a measure of life well lived? Of the wisdom and experience gained in the living of our lives, could we celebrate who we are now, warts and all? To stand in this moment, strong and grounded grateful for all of the experience and time that has brought us to this point. Neither looking back in disappointment or forward in fear and determined to experience each moment with love and gratitude?
Now, that sounds like a plan!
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour