The Nature of Time

Sun_Moon_Stars“Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.” (Genesis 1:14)

Time.  What is the nature of Time, I wondered as I sat stunned by the beauty of a full autumn moon  with its brilliant light filling the sky.    The next day most of America would dutifully adjust their clocks back one hour as they head for bed.   The morning after everyone’s lives would be synced to the artificial Time of calendars and clocks so we all be about the business of the day, and our society.

Modern time is an artificial construct overlaid on the natural cycles of Nature, which were given to us by our Creator.   Man changes them according to his will, by legislating Daylight Savings Time (DST), for example.  DST gives no one more time, nor does it take away time.   It only re-orders the natural cycle to meet Man’s demands upon other Men.   We got along very well on this planet without it.

God is no respecter of persons or societies.  He has set in motion a wonderful clockwork, designed to give us the best markers for the time and seasons that all can understand, no matter where we live on this planet, nor the era in which we live.  He does this without price or strings attached.   All we need do is raise up our heads and observe the sky in motion around us.

Our ancestors observed the sky.   They filled the landscape with standing stones to mark the movement of the sun, the moon, and the stars.   Nothing mystical or mysterious, just creating on earth what they observed in the heavens.   What if we all lived our lives this way?

The Sun.  Many cultures have built their houses with the doorway to the East, to welcome the sun into their homes – to give them light and warmth as they start their day.   The sun marks the hours of the day with a simple sundial – a stick in the ground, a standing stone, fashioned from metal, arranged in a circle.  The length and position of the shadow on the edge of the circle determines the hour of the day.  Simple, easy, and always the same, self-adjusting for latitude and longitude, though a cloudy day could make it more difficult.  The sun’s position on the horizon also determines the procession of the seasons, also easily marked wherever one lives.

The Moon.   Cold-hearted orb that rules the night, as intoned by the rock band Moody Blues.   Cold as a new moon withholding its light maybe, but brilliant and warm when full.   The Moon marks the passage of the month, each quarter, each crescent, waxing and waning through its 29 – 30 day cycle.   Anyone could say “in three moons”, or “at the next full moon”, and all would understand by observing the night sky the meaning of the time of the expected event.

The Stars.   I often wonder if astrology is simply astronomy gone awry.   There are patterns in the stars, which we call “constellations”, that progress through the night sky at a predictable rate, depending on the hemisphere in which one lives.   In Fall/Spring Pegasus and Andromeda dominate.  In Winter/Summer, we see Orion and Canis Major.  In Spring/Fall, Leo and Virgo.   In Summer/Winter, Sagittarius, Lyra, and Hercules.  Their progression tells us where we are in the year and helps us understand what we should be doing to prepare for the next season.   Our ancestors, no matter where they lived on the planet and no matter what their culture, recognized these patterns and used them for navigation as well as for determining the seasons.   Some assigned characteristics to each constellation, projecting them onto anyone born within the season of the star’s dominance.  For example, one could say that he or she was born on the third hour of the day of the first full moon in Orion, and all would know they were born at 3 am on May 10, 2017, and since Orion is a hunter, then one born under the sign of Orion would possess skills necessary for hunting, whether for food or for information, as we now live in the Information Age.  A good provider or a good detective or a good researcher, perhaps?

All these random thoughts led me to wonder what would happen if we all went back to living according to Nature’s cycles rather than Man’s impositions.   Would we sleep better?   Would we be healthier?  Would we be more productive and enjoy life more?   What would happen to modern society as we know it?  What do you think?