Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
January 24, 2000
Suggestions for living in a new millennium
Placing numbers on the passage of time gives us the illusion that we are crossing a threshold as we step from one era into another. But time existed long before the invention of numbers, clocks or calendars and is seen by some cultures as cyclical or circular and by others as a linear progression.
"Time is relative," said Einstein and we know from our own unscientific experience that the measurement of time is only half true. Some hours, days or weeks are much longer than others. It all depends on what you are anticipating.
"Time flies when you're having fun" is the popular expression and it drags when dinner is ready and the guests have not yet arrived.
Time is indifferent to our careful calculations; it simply marches on, enveloping one generation after another, heedless of the mileposts we have placed in our efforts to control it.
So now we celebrate the beginning of a new millennium although in fact it won't take place for another year. But 2000 is a nice round number.
Muslims, Chinese, Mayans, Hindus and Jews all have their own way of counting the seasons, but Western dominance in the marketplace has ensured a global standard which is accepted for practical purposes. Counting roughly from the assumed day of Christ's birth, western civilization is about two millennia old.
While in many respects the date is arbitrary, it is as good a time as any to reflect on the past and peer into an uncharted future. There are no blueprints, but there are some guidelines which might help us to shape a future that is less violent and more conducive to peace with justice.
So, here are my suggestions as you journey into the next century.
Leave all your social trappings, the structures and restrictions that give you false security; the rituals that build your reputations and gain you false respect. But pick up your haversack and carry peace within your heart and share its fruits with those who welcome you along the way.
Travel light and leave the burdens of this world behind you. If you know love and have loved, love others in return. If you have been consoled, reach out to comfort others. If you possess the treasures of the spirit, pass them around freely.
Don't hide your light under the bushel, but go into the marketplace and share in modesty of what you have. Spread joy where there is sorrow and hope where there is despair. Give courage where there is failure.
And should you fail yourself along the way, why worry, if what you seek is good? Seek zealously, sincerely and judge others with compassion. If others grope at the abysmal pit, might they not seek the same illusive goal: goodness, beauty, love and truth?
Perhaps their pilgrimage includes the necessary sin of faltering and rising once again. Their route might go along the gates of hell to find this craved for glimpse of heaven.
Be strengthened as you stumble to know God loves you, not because you're good, but you are good because God loves you. So hunger for the absolute, expect the unattainable, until the haunting hound of heaven will sink his teeth into your mortal flesh.
And should he find you hot or cold, he will devour you. But should he find you tepid and lukewarm, he'll vomit you and spit you from his belly. Go then, and fare ye well. A millennial path seems far too long, but it is made by walking.
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