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.
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?”