Friday, June 17, 2005

flowing like a river

Usually I’m at the gym during the time that I was on the bike tonight. Allison and I have been heading to Gold’s as soon as the kids are fed, and using the less crowded hour just before they close to get in a workout. It’s also good for the exhausted body to have nothing left to do after you exhaust it. Just rest.
Before we placed the gym time between 8:30 and 10:00 pm, I often took a ride during that time. I think it’s the most beautiful time of day with long shadows and deep greens across the fields. The first stars are popping out and the half moon is high in the sky. I found twilight rides to be a perfectly relaxing ending to a day. The Compline ride.
The gym closes at 8:00 on Fridays, so one must punish himself earlier if he’s going to do it. So tonight we went at about 6:00, I came home and cut my grass and the yard beside us, and jumped on the bike to cool off and take in the last moments of daylight.
I almost headed east because the moon had not yet started falling and was just barely on that side of the sky, but I changed my mind and rode off into the last, fading colors. Just at the end of highway 6, as I sat and waited for the light to change and invite me out into the less-traveled roads, I caught a glimpse of a teasing glance from behind a colorful cloud. Just for a moment, we made eye contact. Venus, still shy from her unsociable year of evening exile, peeked out. I saw her and she saw me.
When the light changed, I continued into the fading sunset and after a mile or two, the sky cleared and there she was, still slightly veiled, but in full view.
Back in April, when I was riding in the sunset, I looked up and missed her. I pondered my insular, self-absorbed nature that caused me to think she should be right where she was at this time last year.
Despite my cyclic view of things, I actually spend a lot of time thinking about it, or the absence of it. I like to ponder the idea that time isn’t really real. Is there some way that I could get a tiny understanding of eternity? Growing up I tried to imagine no beginning and no end. We wondered about this in math class – drew little arrows on the ends of number lines. But that was a very juvenile endeavor, because I still tried to think of eternity as if it were linear. I guess I had it confused with infinity, which seemed to begin where I was and go infinitely in opposite directions. But I can’t really fathom non-linear existence. I can’t get my head around the idea that everything is going on at once. I know this is another juvenile undertaking and perhaps someday I’ll be a step beyond. I do exist in eternity, but for now, shrouded linearly in time. I should embrace that, I’m a musician. Rhythm, meter, pulse.
Somehow I’ve always felt I could understand God better if I could get my head out of time. Get just above the clouds where everything just is. Everything is ageless, random access history. But then I realized that time is not a figment of my imagination. Time is a part of creation. God doesn’t just live outside time, He lives in time as well. He instituted it, composed it, set the tempo and joins the song. Of course I still believe that He was and is and will be, but also that He is then, He is now, and He is in the future. What’s more, He travels the linear path with me as well.
There is a peace in realizing that you were created to live in time and that time was created for you to live in. Way back when there was nothing, God created a rough, formless, and empty earth, and before he did anything else to it, he created light, divided it from the darkness and instituted evening and morning and called it a day. The rest of the entirety of creation activity is measured in time. Evening and morning, day one. Time was created, we were created in time an d placed in time. We are inserted between barlines in an asymmetrical meter, measure our lives and count our days and grow old.
We turn to the beginning of our Bibles and ponder whether we’re reading a literal account of the origins of the universe, or metaphor, or myth. We argue about it, whether or not we’re actually convinced of our opinions, and we get bogged down and forget to feel the pulse. We don’t move our feet, we don’t join the dance. We wither up, long for the end of the song and die having never played our instrument.
According to Moses, God placed the lights in the night sky on the fourth day, for signs and seasons – to measure time, to tell us when to begin and when to end. A celestial metronome.
So now I’m sitting here on the deck, still thinking about Venus long after she’s gone to bed for the night. The moon has just reached the height of its climb and sits in the tree limbs over the roof of my bedroom. She lingers at this point just a moment longer it seems, than any other place along her path. That apex of the arc she draws each night. There seems to be moment of ceased motion as she stops and changes direction like a yo-yo at the bottom of its path, or a baseball thrown straight up into the air, or a pendulum changing the direction of its swing. She’s the keystone of the firmament for a moment. The axis that is me with arrows pointing infinitely in opposite directions.