Monday, November 06, 2006

Powers of Ten

Elizabeth Kaeton, in her blog Telling Secrets - Dia de los Muertos writes about time as being at once and forever, saints alive and saints before and after. Linear time is a human construct that I have never understood very well. Even as a child I can remember asking, “Why” – a million whys – and “What” and “Where” but seldom “When”. I learned about “When” as I became a writer, a journalist, telling people in words about events that had happened, were happening or were to happen. I learned to put dates and times on stories for newspapers and magazines and newsletters.

As I became more storyteller myself, I put away my watch (during Cursillo) in 1987 or so and have never put it back on. Clocks and calendars exist in my world – on my desk, in every room of the house, and sometimes they hold power over me, as long as I am willing to submit. I can say, “No, I won’t go now.” But, when I say that I must be prepared to take the consequences: paying for the doctor’s visit because my insurance won’t pay for a missed visit, rescheduling an appointment with someone who is usually busier than I am, missing a performance, disappointing a friend. I have the option of saying, “No.”

When I am most aware of the uselessness of linear time is when I am telling a story with a timeless truth, a mythical portrayal of human and/or divine nature. We are always watching people climbing Jacob’s ladder; we continue to be baptized and have our sins forgiven; we reach out to touch the hem of a garment in hopes of being healed. We translate these stories, these timeless myths, into the here and now of our lives: attending wakes and baptisms, re-membering our own baptismal vows and being forgiven for breaking them; listening with respect to our spiritual mentors in hopes of changing our lives.

As surely as Jesus healed the 10 lepers, traveling evangelists or television evangelists are healing ten times ten as they reach out with the gospel, the good word, to those who need healing or hope. Someone is offering a cup of water to an outcast. Someone is feeding five thousand. Yet, Saul continues to try to kill David, alienating his own son and eventually causing his death. Change the names – the time is then, is now, is tomorrow.

Elizabeth quotes from A Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin.
No matter, it all happened at once, in less than an instant, and time was
invented because we cannot comprehend in one glance the enormous and detailed
canvas that we have been given – so we track it, in linear fashion, piece by
piece. Time, however, can be easily overcome; not by chasing the light, but by
standing back far enough to see it all at once. The universe is still and
complete. Everything that ever was, is; everything that ever will be, is – and
so on, in all possible combinations. Though in perceiving it we imagine that it
is in motion, and unfinished, it is quite finished and quite astonishingly

Have you ever seen the slide show about Powers of Ten - a wonderful display of our universe moving from x to the plus tenth power to x to the minus tenth power. It repudiates our sense of linear time, and it is “quite astonishingly beautiful.”

I cannot imagine a God that would limit his creation to linear time or place or any dimension. I can imagine a world beyond any of our created dimensions, and it is “quite astonishingly beautiful” all the time.

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