No Clocks in Heaven

Imagine no limit to our excursions into the vast frontiers of God’s space-time continuum!

Topics

Faith

I looked at the wall clock in our kitchen and saw both a large and small hand pointing straight up at an odd symbol. At five years old, I had an idea it meant food when the hands overlapped there. Whenever that happened, Mom would tell me it’s lunchtime.

Now, at 80, when I see the hands on my wristwatch telling me it’s noon, I wonder, where did the time go? Oh, to be a child again, oblivious to the passage of time and any notion of death.

Are my prior years stored in some cerebral cloud server, to be assessed by God in the Last Judgment? Is my future firmly ordained by genetics or the stars, perhaps foreseeable but unchangeable? I will die some day, but when exactly? And if I knew the day and hour, would it alter my attitude and behavior? Would I sweep away all distractions to finish writing my memoirs, or book a cruise around the world?

The past and future are tied to this ever-present moment. Albert Einstein once wrote that “the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion… Our perception of time passing is an illusion, from the way our brains are wired, perhaps as an evolutionary tool to help us deal with the world around us, even if it does not actually reflect the reality.”

Of his 1905 Theory of Relativity, which altered our concept of time, he wrote in his memoirs, “Newton, forgive me.” However, Einstein’s relativistic time only differs from Newtonian absolute time at speeds approaching the speed of light (186,000 miles/sec). He theorized that a space traveler moving at the speed of light would not be aware that his time slows down and stops relative to Earth time, and he would no longer age.

Eternity — in paradise, which is the destiny of all God’s faithful — features zero passage of time. Imagine no ticking clocks in heaven to limit our excursions into the vast frontiers of God’s space-time continuum!

All humanity dreams of living forever young. Peter Pan, who never grows up, Tolkien’s elves, and even Greco-Roman gods like Apollo are characters that lead us to ponder eternal youth and immortality.

Jesus’ promise of eternal life is unique among religious leaders. As St. Peter said, “Lord, to whom else shall we go? For you have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Christ’s words are comfort for the long-suffering who hope to be transfigured in the fullness of time. Whoever believes in Me shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

By striving to become like little children (cf. Mark 10:15) and by wholly living in the here and now, we can be unconcerned with the passage of time and oblivious to any fear of death.

 

Richard M. DellOrfano spent ten years on a cross-country pilgrimage following Christ’s instruction to minister without possessions. He is completing his autobiography: Path Perilous, My Search for God and the Miraculous.

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