This piece came from a member who passed away this past year, Don Kase. After reading it, I wanted the opportunity to share it with all of you. I hope it’s as meaningful to you as it was to me.
Many transitions occur in the history of a human being. Perhaps one of the most traumatic is the transition from the life of a fetus to that of a new-born infant. All of a sudden, we are supposed to breathe on our own, see for ourselves, and take in and eliminate our sustenance without our mother’s help. It must be very disruptive to our previous life, as anyone who remembers that transition will attest. Do any of us?
But that is only the beginning. In due time, we transit from new-born to infant, from infant to real “baby”, from baby to “terrible two”, and on through childhood, primary school student, middle school, and high school. We transit from obliviousness of the opposite sex, to disdain for them, to total infatuation for them. We transit from dependency on parents through kinship and fraternity with them to caring for them in their last years. And perhaps, most obviously, we transit from youth through middle years to our golden (old) years with the inevitability of gravity. More quickly, we transit from student to graduate, on one’s own, from child of older parents to parent of the very new-born we opened with.
Some transitions are eagerly awaited; others are dreaded. Some are so gradual we aren’t aware of their daily, though infinitesimal, occurrence. Some are so monumental they can never be forgotten, while others are quite trivial at the time and only realized long afterward to have had any significance. All these transitions have been expounded upon by others, in exhausting detail, with very tedious analyses of the psychology, methodology, mechanics, mentality, meaning, and cause of these and many more. But what about the indisputably most critical transition from our lives in time to our lives in eternity. What about the mechanics and methods involved here?
As I have come to see it, time and eternity are two wholly different and separate frames of reference. Eternity is not time with no end; it is an existence that just is. Eternity never had a beginning, has no present, and, we all should agree, has no end.
I view eternity in geometrical terms, as a sphere, this is enclosed with no source or exit, no beginning, and, certainly, no end. There is no frame of reference, as we know it, to demarcate yesterday, now, or tomorrow. Time on the other had is a vector, a directional, moving line with a past, present, and future.
The line, whatever the time measurement associated with it, is tangent to the sphere at the point we call death. The point of transition, wherever or whenever it occurs on the sphere, or along the vector, is the same, and once in eternity, it matters not where (when, in terms of time) it happened; the result is the same — entry into eternity. Whether it is a God-fearing and -loving caveman, an aborigine from anywhere, an Abrahamic patriarch, a witness to the Exodus, a judge or prophet and those who heard them, a disciple of Our Lord, an early apostle or a 16th century reformer, a refugee, or firmly ensconced pillar of the church, we eventually reach that tangent point between measured time and timeless eternity when we die.
So what happens then? We, our bodies, go into the ground, or into the air as smoke, or into the sea as possible unknowns of fish-bait. But what about us? Time has ceased for us. We are in eternity. The flesh and bones may rot in time, but in eternity, we are as we have been in time, but exalted. “Adam”, if he truly was someone real, Abraham, Moses, Haggai, Ezekiel, Mark, John, and Paul IV all arrived in eternity “when” we did, because there is no time-line there. In eternity, we always were are, and always will be, because there is no time to measure was, is, and will be.
If that sounds like double-talk, that’s fine, because it is. Time and eternity are two separate and distinct states of being. There is no commonality; the “present” is not a short part of the greater “eternity”. The past, whether dinosaur-time, or Adam-time, or St. Augustine-time, is not eternity before now. And the future, however you care to speculate about it, is not eternity to come. Once we reach our tangent point, we are with all others in God’s eternity.
Do we experience a pause, a transition occurring between time and eternity? I think not. Some of the transitions mentioned earlier were gradual, some quickly traversed, and others almost instantaneous. I believe, since Jesus told the malefactor he would be with Him in paradise today, that the transition will be imperceptible. I draw my last breath in time, and take the next one in eternity. And it will be a glorious breath! It will be the most exhilarating and freshest breath I have ever taken. Eternity is a physical existence, not a wafting spiritual one.
Eternity with God has a very nice ring to it. It sounds so lofty as to be an ideal that we cannot imagine. And, maybe we can’t, really. Is there an ideal that is beyond our most treasured hopes and dreams? Undoubtedly so! If our vision of “paradise” is fishing along idyllic, pastoral streams, and limiting out every day, or playing the Pebble Beach Course in 6 under par, or raising the most prolific tomato and corn crops we’ve ever known, eternity with God will be much better. It probably won’t involve trout-infested streams, or sub-par rounds, or bumper crops, but it will be much more desirable than any of those. Of that, we can be sure. But what it is, we don’t know. But do we care?
I think not.