Today’s reading at Mass from the Book of Ecclesiastes says something that is quite powerful if we meditate upon it.
I have considered the task that God has appointed for the sons of men to be busied about. He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts, without man’s ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done. (Eccles 3:10-11)
Somewhere in our hearts is something that the world cannot, and did not give us. This passage calls it “the timeless.” We also often refer to it as eternity, or even, infinity.
But where did this come from? The world is finite. Time here is serial. Things have a beginning, a middle and an end. We do not experience anything here of the timeless. Rather everything is governed by the steady ticking of the clock of time. Every verb we speak is time-based. Everything is rooted in chronological time. But somewhere in our hearts we can grasp the timeless. It is hard to put in words for we know it deeply. Yes, we do know it.
The experience of “forever” does not exist in this world, but it is there in our mind and hearts. There is no way to time travel here in this world. Yet instinctively we know we can, somehow. Science fiction and fantasy often feature going to the past or into the future. The world could not teach us this for we are locked into the present and we have never actually travelled in time. But somehow we know we can do it.
Eternity comes from a Greek word “Aeon” which means the fullness of time. It is not just a long time, it is all time: past, present and future all at once. Look to the center dot on your watch and behold how 10am may be past, 6pm the future, and 2pm now, but at the center dot they are all really the same. This is Aeon, this is eternity, the fullness of time, this is timelessness.
Where did we get it? The world cannot give it, for the world does not have it. It is finite, it is limited, it is time-bound, not timeless. Where did we get it?
Maybe it’s God.