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It’s about time

Theology as taught by the stars.

Among my fondest childhood memories are summer nights spent sprawled flat out on the lawn, studying the starry sky with my father. He showed me how to find the Big Dipper, Little Dipper and the North Star (his personal favourite). Pa claimed you could always find your way home if you knew which way was north. I wasn’t sure why that would be helpful, but if he said so, it must be true.

While crickets provided background music, I imagined the stars as diamonds strewn across a swatch of black velvet. With childish reasoning I pondered lofty concepts. If the heavens ended somewhere beyond my line of vision, what would be beyond that? It had to be more space, even if it was empty. Hmmm . . . that must be infinity.

My thoughts turned theological. Christian teachers in various settings taught me that God created the universe. Sometimes I wondered, then who created God? And who made that who? And who made the who that made the who? Before long I concluded that God must be complete in himself somehow, not created by anyone. (In my forties I learned that’s called the aseity of God.)

Obviously God had been around since the beginning. Wait – he had to have been there before the beginning if he created everything that exists. Time itself is his creation. What was there before time? What will there be after time ends? That, I reckoned, must be what they meant by eternity.

Even without an extensive vocabulary, it’s amazing how quickly a child’s mind draws toward the infinite, eternal and divine. I may be able to better express my thoughts these days, but frankly the concepts remain well above my finite intelligence and therefore are still worthy of deep contemplation.

The real illusion

Time is one of my favourite topics. Einstein said that time is an illusion. Who am I to argue with genius? Still, after this many years on the planet, I’m convinced time is real. Control is the illusion. No matter how well planned the day or week, there are always factors that change the course of my intended activities and alter my desired goals.

I’m still a sucker for articles and books on so-called time management, possibly because I was raised with the adage that lost time is never found again. But experience has taught me that trying to actually save time or even effectively manage it, is like trying to catch the wind. Time saved is only spent elsewhere. As for management – it’s time (or lack of it), that most often establishes my priorities for me, not vice-versa.

Time is the context in which we live. It’s the framework for the story of our lives. No wonder we can’t hang onto it – we’re not supposed to! Sometimes I like to imagine what eternity will be like without clocks, calendars or to-do-lists. No deadlines or best-before dates, no pressure to get the job done or to squeeze in just one more task before bedtime. Life will be the perfect balance of rest and activity. Ageing won’t be an issue – no need for vain attempts to cling to youth when time has expired and death is vanquished.

Summer always passes so quickly. It’s about time I do some star-gazing again. I’ll be investing time (as opposed to spending it) in consideration of the Timeless One who made all those lights, named them and called each one into its place. Time and eternity hold no mysteries for him. In fact, he holds my time in his hands. And if he said it, I know it’s true.

  • Heidi VanderSlikke lives on a farm in Mapleton Township with her husband Jack. They share their home with a gigantic Golden Retriever named Norton, who thinks he's a lap dog. Heidi and Jack have three happily married children and seven delightful grandkids.

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