Suddenly a String, Bopping Along on the Conveyor Belt of Eternity

I am still thinking about Eternity, and how it does not start when we die.  We have these little slices of Heaven, here and now.

When I fell in love, I entered into this experience that transcended time.  When I am just synchronized with my wife, so connected with her, usually when it is quiet, often when we are physically touching, I feel like it.

Sunset at Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California
Sunset at Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California

Sometimes, when everything just falls into place and I am in nature…  For me, it is most often in deserts.  I spent some time in Joshua Tree, in California.  And had this evening at the Grand Canyon.  The sun was setting on the sheer enormity of it all.  A bag piper was playing “Amazing Grace” in the distance.  (I was not a Christian at the time, but –regardless of your faith comitments–  if you can listen to “Amazing Grace” on the bag pipes and not get the chills, I suspect you have no soul.)  Everything just slipped into the place it was supposed to be.  I just got bigger than time and space.


During the best kind of prayers, when I have gotten past the whole God-is-Santa Clause-in-Disguise stage of asking for things, and the God-is-a-super-powered-therapist stage of complaining about my feelings, when I have entered into wordless quality time with my divine father, I get there sometimes, too.

As best as I can understand Stephen Hawking, time is a dimension much like length, width, and height.  It is different, though, because we are stuck traveling along this axis, regardless of what we do.  I picture this a bit like being stuck on a grocery conveyor belt.  We can change the speed the belt is moving (mostly by approaching the speed of light, but that’s a whole other story)  but we can not change the direction.  We move from the past and into the future.


One sense of the word “eternal” is the idea that this conveyor belt goes on forever.  When the lyrics of Amazing Grace talk about how we will be here in ten thousand years, this is the kind-of eternity they are addressing.  Ten thousand years?  That is one long grocery store line!

My experiences of God’s Kingdom as described above, they were not some sort of premonition of ten thousand more years.  They were not a sense of that kind of eternity.  Instead, they were this opening up, this widening.  Almost as if time is not one extra dimension, but two.  And usually, we exist as this one-dimensional little point in this dimension, like a dot on a piece of paper.  This other-kind of eternity, it is like we get pulled out into a different plane, we get spun from a point into a string, cruising along that conveyor belt.

(I fear that I am about to stumble into all sorts of weirdness about String Theory or the wonderfully mind-blowing mathematical novel Flatland…  so I think I had best reel myself back into my usual theological babblings.)

Martin Buber said that prayer does not exist in time, but time exists in prayer.  I have this idea that maybe that this is what he was talking about: these moments of God’s presence are experiences bigger than the single-dimensional, every day experience that we have.

I shared with you… Now it’s your turn to share.  What are some experiences you have had of timeless and eternity?  What are those like for you?  Is this the kingdom, which Jesus promised “is already at hand?”


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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