There is a little playground next to the bike path where my husband and I start and end most of our runs.
This playground is usually dominated by the four-to-five-year-old crowd. My grandsons (ages seven and nine) have outgrown it for the most part.
Today there was exactly one person on the playground when we began our run. The same one was there when we finished.
He was an oddity – a thirteen-or-fourteen-old boy, tall and gangly as only a young teenage boy can be.
When we ran past him the first time, he was playing the xylophones and drums stationed in the park; when we returned, he was swinging on the swings.
I imagine he already felt nostalgic for his very recently departed childhood, which caused a wave of tender sympathy to wash over me.
“Yes,” I thought, “It goes by quickly, doesn’t it?“
I have been feeling much the same way.
My husband and I have spent most of the past week mulching.
It’s not our favorite chore. It’s hard work, especially for Bill. We first weed and edge all the flowerbeds surrounding our house. Then he hauls wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow full of much to the beds, which I attempt to spread around evenly.
It’s a lot of lifting for him and crawling around on hands and knees for me. The chore gets more difficult with each passing year.
Bill and I were teenagers when we first met, not too much older than the young man playing on the playground.
We met in Calculus 101, in our freshman year in college. He wanted to talk to me before class but was too shy, so he enlisted a friend to break the ice.
We went on a walk in the woods for our first date and wound up sitting on a stone wall, talking for hours, laughing, and getting to know one another.
I remember those heady first days of our budding relationship.
I was never as eager to go to math class as I was then. My heart would beat just a little faster, knowing I would see him and get to sit next to him. Every “first” was exciting. The first time I met his family, our first kiss, the first concert we attended together.
Who could have imagined back in those days that one day those two teenagers would be mulching flowerbeds together and complaining to each other about sore backs and creaky knees?
Time is a slippery concept, fluid and elastic.
We see time from only one perspective – the inside.
Much like passengers on a speeding train, we perceive our universe and our lives as moving in only one direction, from past to future.
When time is measured, it always appears to move at the same rate. A second is a second, and a minute is a minute.
Physicists know, however, that time is slowed by the gravitational field of heavy objects like planets or stars.
Human beings know that time speeds up as we accumulate more of it.
When I was seven, and just released from school for summer vacation, the time ahead of me seemed to spread out in an endless expanse of swimming pool days and firefly nights.
Looking ahead at my full calendar for this summer, I think, “I need more time.”
Christians believe that, while we are temporal, existing in time, God is eternal. This means that God exists, but not at any one particular point in time. Rather, he exists at all times simultaneously.
There are serious philosophical and theological arguments about the timelessness versus temporality of God, complete with terms like “Quasi-Temporal Eternality” and “Eternal-Temporal-Simultaneity“.
We try to pin God down with “x“s and “y“s, with simulated situations concerning Observers A and B, but God eludes our attempts. I read these theories until my head spins and come no closer to understanding how God exists in time or eternity.
I only know this about time: it’s not too late.
Understanding the abstract concept of time may elude me, but if you are reading this, you and I have one thing in common. We have more of it left.
More time to catch fireflies, more time to swim, more time to marvel at the stars, more time to play on the playground, more time to fall in love all over again, more time to wonder about God. It’s not too late today, right this second.
Let’s spend all of our given time, right down to the nub. Let’s use it all up. Let’s make it count.
It’s late, but it’s not too late.
Maybe Paul said it best in his second letter to the Corinthians: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
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