I am glad that Fall is here, both by calendar and by temperature, finally, but I'm sad that another Summer has passed, indeed that time has passed. I walk the steps to my office and think "was it really 26 years years ago that I first stepped int this place?" I visited a park, briefly, this early evening, and while waiting for my wife and watching a mother and young child pass by, I considered how many years had passed since I had passed in the same way, a blond-haired boy and redhead in tow.
Time is part of what came unwound in the Fall, part of what befell the first Father and first Mother on that fateful day of expulsion. The ticking began, and the meter continues to run. The sense of passage of time is real to us and part of the curse, part of the suffering and travail of the world. It wasn't meant to be this way.
Part of the hope deep beneath Buechner's sigh is the restoration of childhood, the unwinding and undoing of the curse, when time will be over and the end of our time will not haunt us. It's happening already. Have you ever had one of those absolutely magical moments when time seems to stand still, when your eyes are opened just a bit to the fact that there is a deeper reality, a truer Truth than what we see? My son is a young man, and yet there are moments talking with him that I sense there is an old soul within, a timeless soul, one with wisdom beyond his years and beyond his sensing. My daughter speaks, and I hear not the voice of a teenager but the voice of a woman, and I smile. Or you're in a place and you have the uncanny sense that you've been there before, though you haven't, and perhaps it is that for a moment the door opened on timelessness and you had a peek.
That's Heaven you're knocking up against. You get to wake up when you want. You're having one long conversation with God, with no regrets over yesterday and no anxiety about tomorrow. In fact, maybe "yesterday" and "tomorrow" are not even in the lexicon. There are a string of eternal nows within which to live. Time, what the Greeks called chronos, or quantitative time, has ceased, is not even remembered, and the only time you know is what they called kairos, time in a qualitative sense. Like a childhood Summer, when the last school bell rang and the season ahead stretched interminably and unimaginably into the future, like a world without end.
That's Heaven. World without end. Time out, for good.