Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Imagine That

Human, including my own, decisions, indecision and preferences make no difference to Mother Nature. But this morning I find myself undecided about the predawn hour; that is to say, which is most wonderful, (i) the perfection of total silence with clear sky, stars, moon if it’s out and sailing across, a shrimp boat working the Bay, and seasonably cool, dry weather such that I need an extra shirt or light sweater; or (ii) lightning too distant for thunder in huge clouds moving east or west on the horizon far south over the Gulf, magnificent in the predawn; or (iii) a morning with threatening thunder and lightning flashing, rumbling, low clouds drawing closer until, sky covered, rain pours down and rain all morning. If weather fluctuates, so does mind, decision, and preference. The experiences in a house were far different to living high in a tower. On the ground was to hunker down, take whatever is, and wonder what’s coming next. Living up here, I’m an overseer: in upper management we get to help decide what is, which helps me appreciate the folks of Genesis 11:4. Wishing everyone could be so blessed as to live on the seventh floor, I'm thinking of a child's book, We Were Tired of Living in a House. 

In a funeral homily last Saturday morning, I thought of Barbara Crafton’s little book The Courage to Grow Old, which since then I have gone ahead to finish. At the end, her final essay is about life and what comes next after this, and especially about Time. Time with its TimeLine, and Eternity with no such. Starting with Einstein saying “time is what we have so that everything doesn’t happen all at once,” Crafton thinks about the stars, far distant stars whose light that we see in the heavens in our present is actually reaching us from their past, from years ago, decades, centuries, thousands, millions of years ago as earth circles the sun and even as light itself travels through space. Light from stars that may no longer exist but that are there for us to see in our present. 

With that scenario, Crafton does a fascinating trick with Time that could have come from the mind and imagination of C. S. Lewis or Madeleine L’Engle. She reverses perspective and plays with Time. On planets in far distant space are beings, humans like us, scientifically more advanced than we are, in that they have telescopes so powerful that they can peer at us and see us moving around in our daily lives. Of course, like the light from the stars that we see right now in this morning’s dark sky, what they’re seeing in their present is our past. Our near past or distant past, or even from ancient times, it would vary depending on how far away from us their planet is. So, out there, the folks on one planet may at this very moment be watching me muddle through my teen years of confusion as I wonder and deal with decision and indecision. What will I choose? What, who will choose me? Going to the telescope in a slightly more distant planet, they may be watching and wagering the outcome of the Battle of Gettysburg as they watch it live. General Longstreet will shake his head “no” when Pickett asks; and if not, with the far advanced communication capabilities on that planet they can get word to General Lee to change his mind before it’s too late to stop the charge and its carnage. On another planet a bit farther away, they are watching live as an innocent man is nailed to a cross while some bystanders mock and taunt him, and others weep. How that will turn out remains to be seen — moment by moment, as it happens, because from there the story is unfolding, live and in their present. It’s all in the mind of God anyway. From a more distant planet they are watching a TRex rip to pieces as it tears out chunks and consumes a huge, lumbering lizard.

In her scenario of life here and hereafter, Barbara Crafton stirs the thought that when we die and our here and now crumbles away and we find ourselves in that state beyond Time, we will be in Eternity where there is no Time Line and all these things are happening. It will be a matter of perspective, and we will be able to see not only what was, but what might have been, what could have been. She teases with the possibility that we’ll be able to check out and perhaps even live into various different realities. For one thing, I’m going to see how I look in that admiral’s uniform that I longed for in my twenties but for sundry reasons, decisions and choices I never got to wear in my forties: hey, if Crafton is right, no problem. If I do it, I hope I’ll be able to find my way back, because all that is for me now is because of my TimeLine. But imagine that. In that TimeLine, where am I this 2015 morning? 

From another perspective in Eternity we may be able to stop that crucifixion after all. Imagine that. Just imagine the possibilities. 

Are you saved?


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