I always used to think time was a relative thing. When I was running late in college, I figured I could easily just turn my watch back 5 minutes, and when my teacher would reprimand me, I could tell them their watch is 5 minutes fast. Who’s to say one of us is right and the other is wrong? Time is silly, I thought. We’re abiding by a structure that is coming from some unknown place! I wondered if anyone was really keeping track.
It turns out that someone is.
One day, while I was living in DC, I had the opportunity to visit a friend of mine who was interning at the US Naval Observatory. It’s hard to get in that place unless you know someone, so I was thrilled to get a personal tour. It turns out that his job was to be in charge of the Master Clock. I could not believe that first, such a thing existed, and secondly, my 23-year-old friend was in charge of time! I laughed to him in disbelief. Why is a Master Clock important, I asked? So my teacher really could tell me I was late to class? He explained the importance to sync things up. So many things we use depend on an exact time, like the Internet, GPS systems, radios, and cell phones. But also, matters of life and death – whether a missile lands here or there. Lots of military systems need precise time, as well as highly accurate scientific experiments. I had never thought of time as having so much power.
Our bodies have a Master Clock as well. The Circadian Rhythms that monitor our physical, mental, and behavioral changes are controlled by a Master Clock in our brain which coordinates all body clocks so that they are in sync. Thank God for that!
Speaking of God, where does s/he fit in to all of this? In what way is God the true Master Clock? How does God’s time differ from our time? One of the quotes that was said today that really struck me was that “all we have is the present, but the present is always opening up backwards and forwards” (St. Augustine?, recited by Don Saliers). Don went on to say that the future, past, and present are all the same to God. Now that’s the least precise Master Clock I’ve ever heard of!
Creator God, Master Clock: May we learn what it means to live on your time, imprecise and multidimensional as it may be. Amen.