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Archive for December 28th, 2018

So asks the good Doctor who delighted me as a child, and grabs my attention once again, reigniting my imagination as I share his wisdom with our grandbaby Zoey.

Time is a funny thing. There’s never enough of it when there’s something we want to do or need to do. It seems time plays the hare when we are having a good time (“my, where did the time go?”) and the tortoise when we are bored (expressed by a child who repeatedly asks, “Are we there yet?” every few minutes of a long car drive).

Weekdays move slower than weekends and holidays, and vacations almost always seem to end just when we are getting into the spirit. When we are young, time stretches out before us like endless yarn. After 60, we wonder about how many yards of yarn are still left on the spool. As often as not, time seems more like an enemy than a friend.

Here’s the kicker: time itself isn’t real. We made it all up. Albert Einstein wrote: “The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” Yet, on this side of paradise, it seems time’s passage and measurement rules! If it is an illusion, it is a powerful one.

Ushering in the New Year, we participate in the Big Countdown along with thousands of people around the world. We celebrate with music, dance, and varying degrees of inebriation, complete with noise makers and a panoply of carbohydrates. Our own personal ritual is to watch the “ball drop” in Times Square on network TV, enjoying the way the new year moves across the planet in a wave with the televised celebrations from Mumbai, Hong Kong, Hanoi, Karachi, Moscow, Athens, Berlin, London, Rio, and Mexico City. We make sure our corks are ready to be popped right at the stroke of midnight followed by calls to family and friends (at least those who are still awake).

As Epiphany approaches, I am once again reminded of the story of the three Magi drawn by a star in the East who “bearing gifts, traverse afar.” Their wondering propelled their wandering. I cannot imagine their being bored on the trip. When we are arrested by wonder, something different happens to time. It stops. While performing with certain rhythms and according to ordered patterns, the truly great expressions of artists, musicians, poets, dancers, craftspeople and singers transcend time.

Last summer, Linda and I stopped into a St. Vincent de Paul shop in Clermont Florida. Standing over in a corner was an old Seth Thomas grandfather clock. It caught my eye and was being sold for a song. The cabinet was in great shape as was the clock face. The romance of such a classic timepiece overwhelmed us and so we bought it. Getting it home, we set up the pendulum and the solid brass weights that power the movement, but nothing happened. So, I called a horologist (a master clockmaker) who stopped by just before Christmas.

This clock master, Ed, is a classy gentleman who took his time. He completely and lovingly dismantled the movement to diagnose it. He tested the chimes (such beautiful sound, the Westminster Quarter or Cambridge Quarter, derived from the chimes at the Church of St. Mary the Great in Cambridge). His diagnosis – the clock needs a new movement that he will install this month. His promise is that the clock will be as good as new and he will come prepared to tutor us in all the workings of the clock.

What stood out to me is that time flew by as we spoke. He talked about the history of clockmaking in Connecticut, the role of the Dutch, and the likely history of this grandfather clock manufactured in New Jersey. His passion was infectious. Several hours later, this craftsman became a friend.

Our time ministering to this old clock was itself precious time. Our shared wonder about time and timepieces was a moment of shared celebration about beauty and artistry that reminds us that time is a movement that rests on timelessness!

As we all celebrate Epiphany, I pray that you find moments of such timeless rapture that inspires imagination and an ecstatic dance with the sacred mysteries of Being.

© The Harried Mystic, 2018 and Br. Anton, TSSF. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Flash-Sense

I was too long inside, busy with work and having lost the sense of time. I needed a stretch. I opened the front door to take a short walk and get fresh air when I was blinded by brilliant sunlight. For a bit, I couldn’t see a thing and it even hurt as my eyes struggled to adapt. Everything was bathed in intense light; so bright in fact that, for a split second, I too was light.

We’ve all had this experience on especially bright days as we first step outside. It passes quickly, our eyes adapt, and we get on with it. But, this time, it got me to thinking. The long night ends as the Son rises in the East, making all things luminous.

Each dawn reminds us of this central mystery. The night ends in a flash from the East as a new day begins; the moment when dreams are renewed. On Long Island, many of us have traveled out East to Montauk Point to see the “green flash” seconds before Sunrise. Analogously, the first Easter also came in a flash, after the dark time of sorrows.

I imagine the moment as Mary greeted a man she first assumed was the gardener. As he stood at the opening of the now empty tomb, the light behind him obscured his features. Imagine her sudden realization in hearing him call her by name that he was her Lord. In a flash, tears of mourning dissolved into expressions of joy.

Dwight Kalita wrote a quite captivating and insightful book some years back entitled, “Light Consciousness”. He tracked all the references to light in both the canonical and apocryphal gospels and he saw light used as metaphor for revelation over and over again.

Light is mentioned 90 – 97 times in the New Testament ( depending on the translation). “ Darkness” is mentioned, on the other hand, around 41 times, less than half as often. This contrasts with the physical reality of the universe where light makes up less than 5% of what’s out there. All the rest is an unknown dark stuff that bears no resemblance to the matter we know and are made of ( electrons, protons, etc). Light is dwarfed by all the darkness from which it emerges.

The compelling message strikes me with abundant clarity: Resurrection is the triumph of light over the persistent darkness. I think on these things with special focus as March 2018 saw the loss of famed Cosmologist, Dr. Stephen Hawking, whose life was a passionate dance with the mysteries of light and darkness. While not a religious man, he spent the time he was given contemplating the mind of the Cosmos.

Among his contributions is the notion of “Hawking Radiation,” the realization that elementary particles do emerge from black holes from which otherwise nothing (well, almost nothing) escapes. The triumph of the light is more glorious when placed in the context of ineffable and pervasive night. Even “black holes” ultimately cannot contain an exuberant fountain of energy.

The perpetual tension between light and darkness quickens our senses and feeds our hope as we awaken each morning to the task of being children of that same light in the world. Ours is the joyful obligation to be bearers of light in imitation of the Wayshower.

What form does this “light” take? Well, interestingly, the word “ love” appears 221 times in the New Revised Standard New Testament. Pure and simple, Light Consciousness is love consciousness and recognition that my brothers and sisters are everyone and everything, everywhere. The work of conversion rests in locking arms and, to quote the character Yvaine, from the movie, Stardust ( an incarnated star played by Claire Danes): “Let’s do what stars do … Shine!”

I pray, my dear friend, that your time be filled with the Light of Love that overcomes all despair, hopelessness and the otherwise crushing darkness of our times.

© The Harried Mystic, 2018 and Br. Anton, TSSF. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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