Transit spatio-temporel (Time & Space Transit)

Image by Gilderic via Flickr

As a child, days seemed to last forever. I’d lie by the fan on the cool floor in summer, watch the blades as they sped into a whirl. Or I’d swing across the gravel drive as if time stood still. In those moments, the slowness of time seems now a foreshadowing of eternal joy.

But there was the “bad” slowness of time, as Christmas crept closer, and the days slid slowly along like a snail on a leaf. Waiting to grow up, to be able to drive a car, was a lesson in patience, especially when I sat in the driver’s seat of my uncle’s Plymouth Fury. The first day I loved cottage cheese was when my aunt said that eating it would make me grow up faster so I could drive that car.

School days dragged, but both happy and sad moments lasted. Since then, memory, thankfully, has made the past sacred, and childhood seems an idealized timeless dream in wonderland. I wish I could go back and enjoy the slowness of time.

After high school, time flowed faster, and today, two years from fifty, time rages downstream like waters just before they fall into Niagara foam. I used to be able to sit down in the woods and contemplate what had happened in my life, to “take stock of things” as the cliche says. Now weeks were once what days were, and time to take stock is rare–perhaps during summer break while sitting outside in a swing or lying in grass under a red maple. But then the reality of time’s pace overwhelms, as years of gain and dear God, so much loss, so many family members and friends gone forever, at least this side of eternity. Perhaps Heaven will be a place where every moment is good and beyond the limits of time, with no worry about decay and death, and where memory and dream are as real as waking life. Until then, life passes by too fast, as chairos, subjective time, chases chronos, “objective,” “clock time,” and appears to catch up to it and pass it.

The answer to my original question of whether time moves faster as we get older is “Yes, in a sense.” Chronos will move on, set by the motion of the earth’s revolution around the sun and ultimately by the beginning of time at the Big Bang. But Chairos runs faster until it flies through the air as life runs its inexorable course toward the abyss–yet for me, I hope, as a Christian, that death is not an abyss, that the damage time does will be reversed, and that the good time does by making moments sacred will be enhanced beyond any of our wildest dreams.