I used to believe that 'eternity' represented the passage of more time than our mortal minds could ever begin to comprehend. But, one day it occurred to me that time is strictly a physical entity. Along with the three dimensions of height, width and length, it makes up the four physical dimensions that we occupy. If I ask someone to meet me at the northern wall of the Half-Way Tree clock, they are going to ask me when. We need time here in this world. Eternity is therefore the absence of time ... not an indeterminate/ incalculable amount of it.
Time appears to be accelerating, so there may be something to Matthew 24:22, "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened". And, time seems slower or faster under different circumstances for different people. One minute of excruciating pain feels like an hour, and an hour of blissful pleasure feels like a minute. Time also seems to slow down whenever adrenaline surges through our bodies ... perhaps it is nature's way of giving us 'time' to react to danger.
I won't go into the warping effect that mass has on time; suffice it to say that time is a physical dimension, but the awareness of it varies from individual to individual under specific circumstances. The operative word here is 'individual'; we have all been given our 'time', a gift as unique and as finite as our own space. How we use our finite time and space determines our future here and in the hereafter (beyond time and space).
I recently attended the funeral of an elderly patient that I had known for many years. Her son delivered the eulogy and he eloquently spoke about her 'dash'. He was alluding to the hyphen inserted between her date of birth and her date of death. That little hyphen represents everything that we have ever thought or done; every good, every bad, every right and every wrong. That little, insignificant-looking hyphen sums up our entire existence here on Earth, and most of us are in control of most of it.
As the new year rolls around, many people either make New Year's resolutions or think about making them. In a country such as ours, brimming with negatives and destitute of positives, we all need to resolve to involve ourselves in a positive way towards the improvement of our society. We need to use our brief God-given time here to do something, anything, for the benefit of our country.
Once we are born, death is certain but many people spend most of the time between their birth and death pursuing selfish goals ... they never make sacrifices for others. If others benefit from their deeds and/or achievements it's only by happenstance, or because when others benefit it also benefits the selfish achiever. Many also follow a narrow path from birth to death, treading so carefully that they never contribute anything or leave a mark. We need to break out of that constrictive way of thinking; Jamaica needs citizens to do their part for the good of everyone.
There is no greater use of our time than to help others. Youngsters yearn for examples of what it means to be a responsible citizen. Many need role models and mentors. We should all try to take the time to contribute whatever we can towards the upliftment of our society. I certainly don't want the hyphen between my birth and death to represent a gap occupied by selfishness or, worse yet, a blank space (and time).
Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Feedback may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com