I can’t think of a more esoteric subject to write about than time. It seems we have all of it there is but don’t really know how it fits into the physical universe, much less how it impacts the spiritual reality. Time is invisible, it is not matter nor does it control it but seems to co-exist with it. Humans have learned how it affects the way we live (we have calendars, watches, lify-cycles of all living beings, and theories of relativity and quantum mechanics.)
We ask questions about time. Did it always exist? Who caused time to begin? Was there a Big Tick, like there was a Big Bang (if there was such a thing)? Did energy begin the Big Tick or did it always exist (given that everything we know of has a beginning and and end)?
What we do know about time is that I have a chunk of it with which I can to do something to help my life and those around me. In the interim, I know that I know, I know that there is supposed to be purpose in life and especially in my life. I know that, left to its own devices, time is what it is, whatever that is, and that I have the ability to ask questions about it to discover where it all fits together. I can learn about time, invisible as it is, by measuring it. Humans have been counting the phases of the Moon, building temples to the Sun, Stars, creating calendars on seasons, for eons. Science today, with its emphasis on emprical proof is even more penetrating in its discovery of how how even time is warped by gravity. Who know what other marvelous discoveries await the human mind in its attempt to find meaning and discover being. What affect does the spiritual universe have on time?
In one of my forays into the place where I fear to look (my inner self), I used Lectio Divina (Phil 2:5) to expand my notion of time to spiritual time. Of course, I am no expert in science of any discipline, nor a theologian, nor even a learned scholar of history. I am only a broken-down, old Lay Cistercian passenger, an observer on the Earth Limited, a train that is, for me, passing by (seventy-seven years so far) on the scenery of life. My journey is almost over. When I reach my destination (death is the last great stop on my journey), will time end for me? Is that all there is? If you want to know more about my thoughts about time, such as the Four Epochs of Time, and how a woman actually changed time (not physical time but enabling us to tell spiritual time), then you can go the Store setting in this blog and look up: The Woman Who Changed Time: Spirituality and Time. I owe much to the late Dr. Stephen Hawking and his Brief History of Time. Our assumptions were different as were our conclusions but he stimulated in my my notions that there was indeed spiritual time.
If you don’t believe in a living God who transcends physical and mental time, then you will not be able to look at spiritual time and see anything but void. If you do see that God exists in time that has no beginning or end, it just is, then a door opens up for you to discover purpose, your purpose, what reality looks like, how all reality fits together, and also how to love fiercely enough to propel you to Heaven, then you will not transform yourself into a being that can move beyond the ultimate consequence of time, death.
A LAY CISTERCIAN REFLECTS ON THE IMMORTALITY OF TIME
My Lectio Divina has taken me on many travels. If you do Lectio Divina, you know you must look in the one place all humans fear to go, inside yourself. Demons exist there, if you let them. Falsehood and Truth joust all the time, sometimes one wins, another time we go off the deep end (we call that sin).
With the coming of Christ as one of us, a new element of time appeared. To be sure, there was and is physical time (in nature, to order our day, to give us seasons and eventually death in the World), mental time (our discovery of what time means in our World) and spiritual time (beginning with Christ, it is possible to exist beyond death in a time that has no matter, no physical time, only fierce love, the engine of pure energy). By outselves, science, philosophy, and other isms cannot breach the gulf of what spiritual time means. Christ gave us three tools to help us.
CHARACTERISTICS OF SPIRITUAL TIME
Spiritual time does not exist in physical or mental time but co-exists with it.
When each of us dies, we move from physical time to spiritual time. All things physical, all things material corrrupt.
Spiritual time is. It is an eternal NOW. In the physical universe, we can anticipate going to Heaven. In the spiritual universe, there is the product of transformation from self to God, not the process.
Spiritual time is pure energy, pure love (fierce love), pure service. By pure, I mean being 100% of its nature. We don’t even begin to know how powerful that energy is, the energy of love, the energy we can not even approach without Christ as intermediary.
The Book of Revelation and the Book of Daniel are examples of St. John looking at spiritual reality, using examples from the Old Testament to describe a universe where there is no time, only God. The problem for humans is, we don’t related to that kind of place, using our senses and human emotions. You can’t go from being a person immersed in the effects of matter, physical time with Original Sin to a place of pure love. The saving part of this is that God knows that and Christ has prepared a place for us where we won’t be afraid. Love is the currency of spiritual time.
Spiritual time began with Mary consenting to be the Mother of Christ, and Christ consenting to be our savior. When he ascended to the Father to give him the glory due his name, and the Holy Spirit established the Church in the hearts of the Apostles to be handed down from each age. My spiritual time began with my Baptism and Confirmation and re-confirmed each time I make all things new in the Eucharist and Forgiveness.
How does all of this fit in my spiritual world of Lay Cistercian practice? In my Lectio, I thought about transforming from my false self to my true self. In English, that means I move from my will to more reliance on the will of Christ through openess to the Holy Spirit. Tranformation is what I aspire to do with time, making it fit into a reality where Christ is the center of my life. What does that look like?
Spiritual time is all about transforming the NOW. On earth, each moment is an opporutnity for me to move from self to God. I don’t go around thinking about each NOW moment, but I do offer the day up to the Father in reparation for my sins and a plea for mercy and grace to live my life with the awarenss of God’s will. In Heaven, there is only NOW, and not physical time. This NOW links all those who have attempted to have in them the mind of Christ Jesus in the Church Universal to each other in one consciousness. With this spiritual hypothesis, you are in Heaven as if you were always there, which you were. I will be able to ask Stephen Hawking what he knows now verses when he knew on earth. I will ask St. Thomas Aquinas questions about how he sees reality now verses how he thought it was on earth. I will do all of this at once, at the same time. It is difficult to imagine how to do this, which is probably why Jesus never went into specifics about Heaven, other than to give us parables of what the Kingdom of Heaven is like (See Matthew 13).
The following materials is excerpted from my book, The Woman Who Changed Time: Spirituality and Time (see blog category of Store to order)
Some thoughts on how spirituality and time interact.
“Many people are more concerned about where they came from than where they are headed. You only enter spiritual time with a free act of the will. You make an act of the will for what will be, not for what has been.”
If the spiritual universe is X, can you solve for X?
Mathematics can teach us about the invisible universe of spirituality. Like dark matter, we cannot SEE it but we can deduce its presence through other measurements and deduce its existence from its effect on other known phenomena. In a mathematical formula, the spiritual universe is like solving for X. Like the Pythagorean Theorem, the square on the hypotenuse of a right- angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides. In physical reality, we can see matter and energy, and measure it. We can use our mental en- ergies to deduce a solution, or solve for X, if we know the formula. Humans have discovered mathematics, the sciences, medicine, physics, and chemistry to answer the question, “What is it and how does it work?” Our mental thinking is invisible yet no less real. It leads us to make choices. Unlike Yogi Berra’s purported saying: “If you come to a fork in the road, take it,” our mental capabilities allow us to choose what is valuable. Yet, what is of value to us may not be valuable in terms of what is good for the last part of the equation– that third side of the triangle. Spirituality is the logical consequence of two universes, separate yet inexorably interdependent. This spiritual universe is like the dark matter of the physical universe, only it is opaque.
The Logical Conclusion to Human Growth.
Spirituality begins when we make a conscious choice to move from a human-centered existence to one that is centered on THE OTHER. You will spend a lifetime, if you are so fortunate, trying to discover what that means. In my own mind, I have discovered the equivalent of Fermat’s Last Theorem. Once thought to be unsolv- able, it has only been solved recently. http://www.mbay. net/~cgd/flt/fltmain.htm. My thinking has led me to look at reality in threes, or, The Rule of Threes: the physical universe, mental universe, and spiritual universe, but with a twist. I have attempted to take everything I ever learned about my time on earth and link it together. In doing that, I used Teilhard de Chardin’s ideas about how the universe is growing. Does time move in a straight line? I don’t agree with the straight line description. I think time is more like concentric circles that form when you drop a pebble on the surface of a clear pond. Instead of the rock causing the ripples, I found myself looking at those ripples and looking for the rock that caused it. Spirituality is the like a pebble that is dropped in the pond of time…it causes ripples. It is the logical consequence of time and matter. Spirituality allows humans the tools to discover the direction that time is headed. It fulfills our nature.
Authentic spirituality is selecting what is aligned with pure energy.
You are free to choose whatever spirituality you want, but remember that not all spiritual thinking will lead you to fulfill your destiny. People who have a devout spirituality that says, “It is moral to fly a plane into the World Trade Center in the name of God,” are missing the point. So, is everyone’s spirituality correct just be- cause they are free to choose it? If you are free to choose drugs, binge drinking, indiscriminate, unprotected sex, indecent exposure, as some of these halftime football shows advocate, is that authentic? Who is to say? You have all the time you have in your lifetime to ﬁnd out what is meaningful. When you choose spirituality, you must also choose what that means. Not all religions lead to the truth, the way, and the life. Life is a quest for the truth. Authentic spirituality, regardless of what philosophical expression you select, means your value system is based upon three principles:
The Two Dimensions of Spiritual Time.
If you want to live in the spiritual universe, you must choose to do so. You must also choose what is authentic and real about spirituality. Once this happens, you live in spiritual time. There is a macro level of spiritual time, one particular to the human race. Spiritual time began with one person making a conscious decision to move forward. There are two dimensions of spiritual time. One is personal and one describes the condition of the human race.
Learn how to sew with The Golden Thread.
You have heard of our early ancestors as hunter-gather- ers. Did you know humans are also sewers? We humans like to link things together mentally. We want to know how it all fits together. In the physical universe, we use thread to sew our clothes and mend our socks. In the mental universe, we use a mental thread called logic, to put an invisible thread through every action we do, and every thought we think. There is a reason why humans behave as they do. Maybe, in the short run, it is for self-satisfaction. We have evolved to sharing with others. In the long run, we think about things like religion, where it all fits, and how my life has meaning. Usually people who are older tend to think more about the deeper thoughts about their lives. When we have a trauma or life-shaking event, such as cancer in our own bodies, or the death of a relative, we move quickly to think about the deeper part of life. Ever wonder why people in prisons all of a sudden get religion? Why are some people so religious, when they find out they are going to die? In the spiritual universe, the one we choose freely, we are given a Golden Thread to link everything we find of value to our future destiny, For- ever. We need a sense of urgency to focus on what is most important in life.
Mary teaches us to sew with The Golden Thread.
Spiritual time is important because what we thread together during our lifetime, we take with us into a universe without space or time. You can only take with you those items you have sewn together with a Golden Thread. That seems impossible. How can an individual link together all these experiences, these wonderful times, and the relationships that made life worth living? The Golden Thread is God. Each and every morning, as soon as you sit on the side of the bed, make a morning offering of that day to God. A simple prayer might be: “that in all I do today, in all my thoughts and actions, may God be gloriﬁed.” If you make this act of the will, every human thought or activity automatically has a Golden Thread put through it, as long as those thoughts and deeds are consistent with God’s laws of spirituality. The Golden Thread for each human who freely chooses spirituality is the link between the wonders of the physi- cal universe with the mental universe, and finally with those of the spiritual universe. Those relationships of intimacy and friendship, consistent with God’s will, all have a Golden Thread running through them. So, what’s your point? We are able to use the Golden Thread, because Mary made a choice for spirituality that was acceptable to God.
Spiritual time on earth prepares you for spiritual time in Heaven.
Why are you here on this earth? Is there a destiny out there towards which all of us inexorably march? The answer is “Yes.” It is one of the reasons that spiritual time completes physical and mental time. There is a reason we humans evolved using human reason. The mental universe allows us to store those values and experiences we wish to take with us as we move to spiritual time after we die. Our circuits were not wired to live in a state of pure energy, pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service. Spiritual time is the universe that “always is.” How would humans related to that? It would fry our circuits. There must be some artificial environment within spiritual time to allow us to survive. There is. Those links we sew with The Golden Thread show that we know what it means to be fully human. We take with us what we sew during our lifetime. Mary is the only human, with the exception of her son, who was perfectly human. Yet, Mary became perfect because God filled her with his energy. In three billion years, we humans might reach that stage of maturity, if we don’t first kill ourselves. For Mary, it was instantaneous. Mary was the first one of us to use The Golden Thread. Because she said “YES,” we reap the benefits and have a chance to fulfill our destiny.
Meditations on Spiritual Time.