God has made everything suitable for its time; moreover God has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
A square wooden clock with a round face hangs on the chimney wall in my kitchen. My son found it at a yard sale when he was in kindergarten – light wood with apples painted around the face. For him, it was love at first sight. In seven years, I’ve changed the batteries three times. It survived the kitchen painting and purge of 2011. It’s the clock I check most often. There’s something comforting about seeing the hands move through the hours, marking the passage of time by position as well as number. It matches my apple cookie jar – a wedding gift, and a replica of the one my grandmother had in her kitchen. Cookie jar, cookie jar, clock – connecting me, my son, and my grandmother through time and motif.
The earth turns, the seasons change, and every living thing ages. My apple clock doesn’t tell me anything about the passing of time beyond the dozen hours I’m living in right now. Clock time looks no different today than seven years ago, but time has transformed my son. The hands pass through the same numbers inscribed on the same circle, unchanged even though my grandmother no longer lives. This apple clock cannot display the beginning of my life or its impending end, it just reveals the when I am in right now.
I think clocks, like time itself, are double-edged. Knowing the time can help me appreciate everything this day brings. Every hour can be found on my clock, and in every hour is the time to encounter God and others. Love is given or withheld in today’s measured time, and my clock reminds me of this. But there is the other edge: no clock can show how my hours become days, weeks, months, and years. Clock time is the same whether I waste my days or live them well. If I don’t pay attention to what the clock can’t tell me, what’s beyond the numbers and hands, I just may miss out on the adventure of this God given lifetime.