Time is a human construct. We change it twice a year.
I’m told this practice has its roots in agrarian society in which an extra hour of sunlight could mean a world of difference. Now that less than two percent of our population actually grows today’s crops, “falling back” or “springing forward” seems out of touch with most of our lives. That is, unless it encourages us to think of time in new ways.
The church didn’t need Einstein’s theory of relativity to understand that time is a changeable dimension. In terms of reading the Bible front to back, the first object that is designated as “holy” is not a place or person or even a God; rather, it is a time. The Sabbath day was made holy; that is, set apart for a purpose. We read that God “rested” on the seventh day with the implication that we should too.
Yet why? Why bother? Don’t we have important things to do? And besides, isn’t this text outdated, a prehistoric relic from a primitive culture that imagined God in too-human terms?
I tend to read Genesis, including the first eleven chapters, as an incredibly wise viewpoint into the human condition. In this case, me thinks we doth protest too much. If we’re honest, it is hard to deny that we work better and more efficiently when we are rested. And furthermore, that our insistence of “staying busy” is often a defensive mechanism, either to convince ourselves of our own self-importance or stave off the nagging feeling that we are missing out on something of more value if only we would stop and pay attention.
To those who protest the very idea, Genesis offers the tantalizing interpretation that rest is as much a feature of the cosmos as the whirling planets; that rest is not an option to be put off until death, but rather an invitation to embrace life fully and life in its abundance.
As you “fall back” this year, gentle reader, may the reality of time as a human construct impress upon your thoughts the gift of God, which may well be shimmering around the edges of everyday life like a frost on each blade of grass in the early morning light – a sunrise that may come an hour “early” and yet be right on time for you to fall back into grace.