By Tom Taffel
"Time, the world's greatest illusions"
Do you all remember the song…?
What's it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What's it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give
or are we meant to be kind?
When I asked if anyone had the time…you didn’t ask me: “the time for what?” You gave me a number, but that wasn’t what I was looking for. I was about to finish my question, “Does anyone have the time -- to become more patient, loving and kind?” You had the time -- and you gave it to me -- a number -- but that wasn’t what I was hoping you would give me. So what’s it all about? For right now, it’s about TIME…………and, it’s ABOUT time!
The very first sentence in “Science and Health” reads: “The time for thinkers has come.” So let’s take the time to think about the word “moment.”
A moment in sports can go by in an instant; but when someone asks you to wait in the car for a just a moment while they run an errand, a moment can feel like an eternity. They say the length of a moment is determined by which side of the bathroom door you happen to be standing?
The word “moment” comes from Latin “momentum” meaning motion and movement. Originally, the word “moment” had nothing to do with time. A moment is a weight… “a particle sufficient to turn the scales.” A moment is a turning point, a moving power.
Moments in nature can be negative, destructive and disastrous. Earthshaking events, such as earthquakes, lightening and tsunamis take but a moment. But it only takes a moment to change your thought from bad to good and from fearful to peaceful. To be “in the moment” is to be at peace. To be present in the moment, is to be present with the Lord.
An instant, according to Webster, is an infinitesimal or very short space of time. Through chemistry and technology, we have instant coffee, instant cameras and instant replays. My answer to the theoretical question, “How long is an instant” would be: an instant is as long as it takes to re-affirm our connection with God.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING AND BECOMING
We use time to become something …rather than to be something. For example: it takes time to become an expert, knowledgeable, skilled or even a “seasoned” Christian Scientist. But it does not take time to be loving, caring, kind, and to be a healer.
“TIME IS MONEY”
How do you spend your time and do you spend your time wisely? Well, you can always start spending your time on forgiveness, our most time-consuming task while on this earth…and there’s no time like the present to get started. Teaching and living, true forgiveness, is our chief function here on earth. Forgiveness is the very key to our happiness. When you hear the argument: “I don’t have enough time,” remember, not having enough time is like not having enough love, because we always have time for the things we love.
THERE IS NO TIME
There is no time in Spirit. There is no time in Love. There is no time in Truth. I’d like to suggest that time is a meaningless concept when contemplating the infinitude of Love, Spirit, Soul, Mind, Life, Truth and Principle. In “Science and Helath,” 468:28-29 – Mrs. Eddy states: "Eternity, not time, expresses the thought of Life, and time is no part of eternity." So, are you in time or are you in eternity? You decide…every day, every moment … where you want to be. You could say: “Time is eternity misunderstood, whereas eternity is time understood correctly.” Our holiness does not exist in time…it exists in Eternity. The birth of Christ wasn’t in the past, two thousand years ago, nor will it be two thousand years from now…it’s going on right now in consciousness…right now…the only time there is. The birth of Christ is timeless; it’s a present blessing and extends forever.
One of the many functions of time is to limit and to separate -- separate the past from the present from the future. (The nicest thing about the future is that it always starts tomorrow.) But as Albert Einstein pointed out, “….the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” Granted…time is a helpful tool in establishing a human sense of order. Timing prevents everything from happening all at once -- causing chaos. Without time and timing, several aircraft might occupy the same airspace at the same time. So we need time and timing to establish a human sense of order here on earth.
Why does time seem to go hand-in-hand with anxiety, fear and change? Because time promotes the very anxiety and fear which wants…rather than has … that fears loss, rather than celebrates everlasting good. Fear, anxiety, disquiet, worry and change are all rooted in time. If someone is expected at a certain time, and they are late, we begin to worry. It’s as if God’s loving care might expire at a certain time. Have you ever noticed how people who are late -- are usually much happier than the people who have to wait for them? Time is the grandest of all illusions and for me to try and define time would be like … asking a fish to define the water in which it lives. It’s something we just have to learn to live with until we can outgrow the concept.
IN GOD’S OWN TIME
My Sunday School teacher was new to Christian Science when she and her husband retired and bought a small dairy farm with a small herd of cows, in upstate New York. Her husband fell one night and broke his wrist. They called a C.S. practitioner, who, sensing his fear and anxiety, reassured him with comforting, yet specific truths, and ended the call by saying: “It’s not yet milking time.” One hour later, he called the practitioner to tell her that he still was not healed and that the cows had to be milked at 5AM. Again she allayed his fear and reassured him: “It’s not yet milking time.” Another hour passed and again he called. The practitioner held to the absolute healing certainty of the truths she had given to him earlier, and – (treating the treatment) -- ended the call with: “It’s not yet milking time.” Well, at 4:30AM, he awoke, dressed and milked his cows. I’ve never forgotten: “It’s not yet milking
time” – and I try to remember that it’s always time to re-affirm that God’s plan is orderly, ordered and in perfect order.
Mrs. Eddy tells us in “Science and Health,” that “There is a divine influence, ever present in human consciousness.” Time and space are not a divine influence, but order is ever-present in human consciousness. We just need to listen and act upon it. It’s always present…and what a present it is…what a gift!
There is no time element in Truth…but there is a time element in every false belief, because every false belief involves time, space matter and fear. Take this false belief as an example: “For how long a period of time did people believe the earth was flat?” For this false belief, time is relevant and has meaning. On the contrary, time has no meaning or relevance to truth. The same question posed in terms of the truth: “How long has the earth been round?” is meaningless because time holds no sway over truth, because there is no time in Truth or Truth in time -- because Truth is timeless. Since the earth has always been round, the truth is unaffected by the mistaken belief that it was flat. The rules of mathematics are un-affected by our mistakes.
“MINUTES vs. MOMENTS”
A minute is an objective, measurable fixed amount of time. A moment is nebulous and subjective. “Just a moment” is indefinite … “Just a minute” is definite. Minutes are simply moments we can get a handle on.
Time and Sports
Sports are usually based on some time parameters. Consider for a moment…
Time out … Out of time ...Taking up time ... Taking time off … Plenty of time ... In time … Beating your time ... Marking time … Time’s Up … Running out the clock.
…And here are some….TIMELY EXPRESSIONS:
All in good time … Take your time … Waste of time … In the nick of time … Time frame … Time warp … Test of time … Doing time … Your time has come … On time … Lifetime … For the time being … I’m having the time of my life … Are we having a good time yet? --- Is this a bad time for you? … There’s no time like the present … Go with the times … All in due time … Time flys … Time waits for no man … (But what about a woman). And what about this gem: “Time heals all wounds.” Now I ask you how can time heal anything? Time has nothing to do with healing and everything to do with forgetting, but forgetting is not the same as healing. Forgetting is like sweeping the error under the rug. And for you New Yorkers, exactly how long is a “A New York Minute?”
So consider, if you will, these thoughts about a time long past: Once upon a time … A long time ago … Before my time … Behind the times … For old time’s sake … Now, if you were to ask me to give you the time – I could give it to you - because I have time on my hands! My watch keeps pretty good time….Is there “pretty bad” time? I have all the time in the world. Let’s see, there’s geological time, and there’s real time…(as opposed to artificial time?)
The Bible tells us that “The word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword.” The operative word is “quick” not gradual or in due time. God’s power is not gradual, time-based or dependent on history. Just as light replaces darkness instantaneously…regardless of how long or how dark it has been -- darkness does not influence the light…but light extinguishes darkness.
TIME AND SPACE vs. HERE AND NOW
Albert Einstein, one of the most influential men the world has ever known and also a student of Christian Science indicated as part of his “Theory of Relativity” that time and space are relative to the observer and not a fact of being. For me, time is a learning experience …Someday, it will no longer be useful, but for now, let me share an experience Bill and I had in 1994 while sailing aboard the “Crystal Harmony” from San Francisco to Alaska – where we had to resolve the human conflict of time and space with the divine facts about being in our right place, at the right time.
Two ships were scheduled to anchor in Sitka, Alaska at the same time; our ship, the “Crystal Harmony” and Regent’s new ship the “Mariner.” Bill and I were granted special visitation privileges to visit, inspect and have lunch aboard the “Mariner” while anchored in Sitka Harbor. Because both ships were at anchor in the middle of the bay, we had to take a tender from ship to shore – change tenders and then tender back out to the other ship. So we checked each ship’s tender schedules carefully — coordinating schedules with precision timing.
We finished lunch aboard the “Mariner” just in time to catch the tender back to the dock so we could board the last tender back to our ship, the “Crystal Harmony,” when all was not harmonious and discord became very real. One of the two tenders had to be taken out of service, resulting in a 40 minute delay … forcing us to “miss the boat.”
Our precision timing had failed us, and now we were going to miss our ship’s sail away from Sitka Harbor. We hadn’t brought a credit card for an overnight hotel or for air transportation to our next port of call. We were up the proverbial creek without a paddle.
Each passing moment brought increased anxiety, fear, doubt and anger as precious minutes slipped away. How could this happen --- and what were our alternatives? Adam H. Dickey tells us in “God’s Law of Adjustment” that there is a law of God which can adjust any material circumstance, but, what was that law? In Christian Science we know that it’s not as important to uncover the error – as the Truth --- which the error is trying to hide. After quieting my fearful, agitated thought, I affirmed with conviction that we were in our right place and that we couldn’t be outside of God’s control because He is the master of details. He knew exactly where we were and where He wanted us to be. Mortal limitations involving time and space do not exist in the Divine Mind, so we could never be outside of His care and loving control.
But the situation was growing darker by the minute. There didn’t seem to be any human solution at hand. Time was running out.
When the tender finally arrived -- we could see the “Crystal Harmony” preparing to set sail. I humbly asked God for guidance: “Dear God, what would You have me do…What would You have me say….and to whom?” I listened and completely shut my mental chatter and pre-conceived plans. Listening to the still small voice is joyous – it’s a taste of eternity. So, I spoke with our pilot, explaining the predicament in which we found ourselves and how we needed to be dropped off at the other ship rather than be taken all the way back to the dock as we were about to miss our sail-away. He was most sympathetic, but explained he was bound by maritime laws, company rules and regulations which prohibited him from calling on another company’s vessel. There was no insurance for such an operation, and even if there were, he was running 40 minutes behind schedule. I had to trust that God was in charge and His law was supreme, present, active and available.
So…….I took a deep breath and calmly asked the pilot if he could just come alongside the “Crystal Harmony” and let us step off the tender -- without -- tying up – an extremely dangerous, risky and highly illegal operation. He recognized our sincere need for help and radioed both ships’ operational officers for special permission to perform this dangerous procedure in very choppy water. Well, it seemed like an eternity, but just in the nick of time, permission from both ships was granted and we were able to make the “flying” switch between vessels. God never takes us halfway, He takes us all the way. As Violet Hay concludes her poem, (affectionately known as “The Airman’s Hymn”) – “I love thy way of freedom Lord”
Till time and space and fear are naught
My quest shall never cease,
Thy presence ever goes with me
And Thou dost give me peace.
TIME, SPACE, MATTER and FEAR:
Time, space, matter and fear are indivisible, an integral part of the mortal dream of human existence – each designed to limit, constrict and kill because time is the stopwatch of mortality. Time sets and re-sets limits and limitation. Eliminate them from your thought, and healing is instantaneous; in fact, there is no need for healing because without time, space, matter and fear, there is nothing to heal.
Every mortal concept has a time, space, matter, fear component. Medicine cannot work without time, space, matter and fear, but if you try to mix them with Christian Science treatment, you have an oil and water combination. They are incompatible. You cannot homogenize them and get a whole and lasting result.
Here’s my favorite Albert Einstein quote: “To those of us who believe in physics, this separation between past, present, and future, is only an illusion, if a stubborn one.” (Jim Holt, “Time Bandits,” The New Yorker, Feb. 28, 2005, p.85). There is no time in reality -- -- -- whether we’re talking about the present, the past or the future. The present isn’t any more spiritual than the past or the future. When, (exactly), did the present begin? When will the present end and become the future? Let’s not turn reality into metaphysical goulash by sandwiching the eternal present between the past and the future because inherent in that thought-process you have a natural beginning and end to the present -- because we are viewing a spiritual concept, (“the eternal present”), through a material lens.
Just as the human concept of the present isn’t any more spiritual than the human concept of the past or the future, the eternal present is timeless and it’s the foundation upon which reality rests.
Here are the four progressive phases of time and space as I see them: 1) Time and space are real. 2) Time and space are relative--in the mind of the beholder. 3) Time and space are false beliefs. 4) Time and space are unreal, a hoax, a grand illusion.
I would like to suggest that without the time and space paradigm, we open up a universe without limits, full of unlimited potential, possibilities and intentionality.
SLEEPING THROUGH TIME
Is time more real in our internal world or in our external world? What happens to our concept of time when we’re asleep? When asleep, time becomes malleable and distorted, without limitations or constrictions, because thought is unencumbered by the laws of matter. When asleep, the laws of time, space and gravity are suspended because they have no power over our thinking. Have you ever considered time to be the interval between two events … such as life and death? We mark that time interval in birth-years, which equates to how many revolutions around the sun we have made…and based on how many revolutions around the sun we’ve made….that number determines our prospects for so many human conditions. Look what time does to our appearance, our health, our long-term financial security. Not a pretty picture when you think of structures which crumble with time, that oxidize in time, that disintegrate with the passing of time.
Now, I’m not suggesting you throw away your watches and possibly miss your flights back home. You don’t want to “over-steer your spiritual headlights,” nor be so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good. But don’t let yourself become a slave to the limitations of time or make a god out of it. If it’s true that, “I am the world through which I walk,” than I take with me my concept of time through my world -- and it becomes my servant, not my master.
All the dimensions of “now” are supported by God’s law of order, control and perfection. “Now” are endless possibilities, possible…not yesterday, not tomorrow, but right now. Remember, the nicest thing about the future is that it always starts tomorrow!
Now is the time between your thoughts and you can change your mind….[your choices], anytime….because you are responsible for what you see…and you choose the feeling you experience, and you decide upon the goal you wish to achieve….and everything that happens to you is the result of what you have asked. God knows the desires of your heart. So be careful for what you ask!
To paraphrase Mrs. Eddy’s poem: “Satisfied” -- “Love looseth thee, and lifteth me, Ayont [time’s] thrall: There Life is light, and wisdom might, And God is All.”
I would like to leave you with this thought from Misc. Writings 230:6 - "If one would be successful in the future, let him make the most of the present." So remember: There’s no time like the present.