Friday, August 2, 2013

The Shape of Time

Recently I heard a very wise woman and a Spiritual Director say, "In our culture, time has lost its shape."

I was struck by her words, and just how profound they are. I hadn't ever considered that time had a shape, other than we tend to think of time in terms of a straight line. But time isn't really a straight line at all, is it? 

Picture an old fashioned clock. On an old clock, time is round and it passes in one direction, marked off in little wedges, or sections of a circle. Before the invention of clocks, people marked the passage of time by seasonal cycles, and by the courses of the sun, moon and stars. The shape of those cycles was oval - fixed and dependable. 

I believe that to God (who lives outside of it) time is more of a sphere. Time on a sphere can pass in any direction, and I think God sees all of it at once.Yes, this concept may seem a little bit sci-fi, but according to quantum physicists, space-time can bend, so why couldn't it be spherical?

In our digital culture, time is marked by a series of numbers, which seem to have no relationship to anything at all. 5:39 means nothing, in and of itself. However, within a context of a day, 5:39 can mean either very early morning, or early evening. In an even narrower context, it can mean the exact moment the sun will rise above the horizon on a certain day. One has to know the context in order to make sense of the marking of digital time. But even if we know the context, there isn't much of a shape to 5:39.

So what do you think? Does time have a shape? And if so, has it lost its shape?

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