Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mastered by Time

He has planted eternity in the human heart. . .  
                                                                Ecclesiastes 3:11b

I have begun using A Book of Hours, which uses writings of Thomas Merton for praying the hours. In a recent morning reading, Merton writes that in the morning, creation awakes and asks permission of God to “be” for another day. All creation, that is, except humans, who believe we control time and our use of it. I wonder if it is that notion that keeps us from fully surrendering to God, because we always live with an eye on the clock and the clock is how we have tried to gain mastery over time.

But what if we had no clock, no calendar? What if, like the rest of creation, we lived in cycles of light and dark and each new day we asked permission of God to “be?” Would that be living out the eternity placed in our souls? Would we then take life in stride, with its times and season, joys and sorrows, difficulties and pleasures, much as the ocean ebbs and flows as the tides move it?

St. Benedict, in creating his Rule that guided monastic life, made adjustments for the seasons—the longer summer days had a different schedule than the shorter days of winter. We are not as likely to make adjustments to our lives according to the seasons. We cheat, for we fill our evenings, be they long or short, with work that keeps us up late and causes us to miss the waking of creation in the morning, which Merton says is the closest we come to experiencing paradise in this life.

We do not ask permission of God to “be.” Instead, we stumble out of bed to the sound of an alarm and put ourselves through the paces of a schedule God may never have intended for us to face, all in the name of being masters of time, when actually, what has happened is that time has become the master of us.

Could we be more fully human if we recognized each morning that it is God who gives us permission to “be,” so that we manifest God’s glory in our very “be-ing?” Is this not how the Word is made flesh and lives among us today?