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Feather's Miscellany: Time

"Perhaps that is what religious faith is all about – stepping outside time for a moment to think about the mystery of life,'' writes John Waddington-Feather.

In youth we live as if there were no end of time; in old age we realise that end is upon us. But as we approach that end with any luck we have a modicum of wisdom which old age brings. We have a much wider vision of time than when we were young.

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier essay, in old age we look through time’s telescope from the eyeglass; not as we did in youth through its broad lens which makes everything seem distant – including time. In old age we can see the full range of our lives more clearly; see all the different periods we’ve lived through; see all the people we’ve met including many whose names we’ve forgotten. Old age is the turning the pages of our life’s history. Hopefully, when we reach the end there’ll be an index of some sort for others to read while we’ve started a new life elsewhere.

Recently I was trying to recall the name of a fellow officer who served with me during National Service in the 1950s. I pulled out an old photograph with a dozen other officers on it whose names I’d quite forgotten and whom I hadn’t seen since I left the army in 1956; yet we were all a closely knit group, comrades-in-arms, sharing the same billet, the same daily routine, the same challenges, as familiar with each other as if we were in a family.

Memories of them came flooding back after fifty years as if it were yesterday, yet time since I last saw them had erased them from my memory. Some will be dead now, yet all of them will be set for ever in my mind as young men in their twenties. At the Great Resurrection will we all be in our twenties, I wonder? Or will we be the scraggy old men we are now? More likely we’ll be in a new timeless dimension after the death of our mortal bodies.

Time tests us all while we’re in it. We either overcome “the whips and scorns of time” or we go under; and as far as I’m concerned it’s my Christian faith which helps me bear up when the going gets rough. Few people have an easy passage through life, and time can play havoc with our lives if we allow it, especially when we age. We can only ease the pain of ageing; but throughout time we can also nurture the spirit and keep it young. I’ve known many an elderly person who’s remained young at heart when time has ravaged their bodies. We can all take an interest in life when life has lost its interest in us. We can make time play our game to stop it playing games with us.

Perhaps that is what religious faith is all about – stepping outside time for a moment to think about the mystery of life. Time starts at our creation and ends with our death. In between we have the opportunity to make the most of our time here by learning how to contact and love our Creator-God, while at the same time loving our fellow creatures in a world made for us to live in and enjoy.

John Waddington-Feather ©

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