Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Prayer about Clocks

Lord God, today I read an article about Ian Westworth, the ingenious and faithful man who tends the Great Westminster Clock in London and its famous bell, Big Ben.
I thought, 'How clever! All those levers and knobs and belts and cogs and pulleys and how marvellous it is that he can tell that the clock is running half a second slow and by placing a farthing or a penny on the top of the pendulum can alter the time on the clock that keeps all of London on its toes.'

He also tends some 500 other clocks in Westminster and its Houses of Parliament and ensures they all run to time precisely. Yet he himself doesn't own a clock. 'I've been looking for the right one for thirty years', he says.

And then of course I thought of You, Lord God, the Master Time Keeper.
You are the one who thought of time itself. Standing outside it in eternity where there is neither beginning nor end, day nor night, travel nor pace, you created a thing separate from - yet mystically intertwined with eternity, and that thing is entirely made up of beginnings and ends, travel, pace, birth and death.

And I thought, 'So what a clumsy thing is a clock? How clever is a clock maker, really?'
I am stunned as I think about it. If I think any more I might slip into spontaneous combustion.
I also marvel at the mind of someone who can think of futuristic plots for movies and books where time is bent and altering events of the past can affect events of the present and future. What imagination!

Yet that is nothing in comparison to You, Lord God who because you created time can glance up and down the lines of it and see it all from outside as a visitor to a train museum observes a model railway through a window. Of course you can see what we call the future and of course you are right when you say we can trust you because you can see everything ahead. To you it's only a bit of the track and you can see how it fits the complete model. Of course you can forgive the past. To you it is part of the hidden building materials that are the model's structure, bits of rubbish and scrap that nevertheless hold the model in place.
And yet you are here right inside time too.

You yourself cracked a hole in the window between time and eternity in a place called Bethlehem and crept in, inconspicuous to all but a handful of shepherds, a young girl and a carpenter. For thirty something winters, springs, summers and autumns you left your signature everywhere you went in time and space, pointing to when there would be neither season, time nor space and where we could ourselves enjoy and at last comprehend that mysterious thing called eternity - where no clock ever ticks nor bell chimes.
All is required of us is the child-like trust of a believer.
To say I am amazed at you sounds so silly, but I am.

Colin Pearce