was sitting alone at the breakfast table one morning,
gathering my thoughts and energy for the day. The sun
streamed in brilliantly through the café curtains, and
I had a sense of being alone with God. It occurred to
me that the whole day would parade before me in a long
series of moments similar to this one. Some I would
be able to anticipate, others would be a total surprise.
But it is that succession of individual moments that
make up what we call "time."
image came to mind. I imagined that the day ahead was
a large piece of paper on which were spelled out in
sequence all the moments of the next twenty-four hours.
Fixed over the paper was a small laboratory magnifying
glass on legs. Because my human perception is limited,
I was able to see the manuscript only through the glass,
one letter at a time. I could look at that letter for
as long as the moment lasted, and then the glass would
move on to the next letter, the next moment in the document
of my day. Once past a letter, I could not go back,
nor could I see the next letter until the glass moved
It's tedious to read something when you can see only
one letter at a time. Slow and frustrating. One must
concentrate carefully to make any sense of what is being
read. I wondered what it would feel like to wake up
in the middle of this process without understanding
what was happening.
see one letter at a time, wonder what it means, move
on to the next, ponder that for a moment, and so on,
seeing no apparent connection between the letters. Sometimes
there is a space between words where nothing appears
in the glass, and I stare at the blankness for a while.
The letters seem to be isolated, unrelated incidents,
until it finally dawns on me that they might all fit
together to form some kind of meaning. I don't know
what letter is next, but I can recall the letter I just
saw. When I try to remember the sequence, I begin to
crack the code. The isolated letters spell words, and
the blanks separate different words. The words form
phrases that have a larger meaning, and the phrases
eventually form sentences. Meaning is being conveyed,
and I sense that I am reading bits of a manuscript which
spells out some great truth. The more I read, the clearer
becomes my sense of what the manuscript is all about.
At times, I can even guess what word or idea might be
there are other beings on higher spiritual levels who,
because they are farther away from the page, can see
larger portions of it. Perhaps the angels have backed
away from the manuscript to the point where they can
see whole words, perhaps even entire phrases, at one
glance. But, at the same time, while that distance gives
them a perspective that I do not have, it denies them
my human experience. Other spiritual beings on higher
and higher levels can see increasingly larger portions
of the manuscript at once, whole sentences, paragraphs,
pages, chapters. Ultimately we arrive at God who alone
is at such a distance from the individual letters as
to be able to see the whole book at once.
sees in an instant an event which for us is a sequence
of moments happening one at a time. That sequence of
moments creates for us the illusion of time. But God
can see at a single glance the letter we are reading
at this moment, the next twenty letters which are part
of our invisible future, as well as all the letters
we read yesterday, last week, last year. In that respect,
time does not exist for God. What appears to us as time
is only an illusion caused by our closeness to the manuscript.
It's all a matter of perspective.
a fascinating fact at work here. Who wrote the manuscript?
God did not, because that would violate the laws of
free will. God merely set down the rules of grammar
by which the manuscript must be written. We didn't write
it, because we don't possess the knowledge. We may have
chosen a title for the manuscript before we came into
the physical world, we may even have sketched out a
rough plot line. But the manuscript itself is being
written as we read it. We know from scientific studies
that an observer can influence the outcome of a laboratory
experiment. In the same way, we influence the manuscript
of our life even as we read its unfolding events. Thus,
we always retain the ability to rewrite the ending.
God may know everything, but even God cannot read what
we have not yet written.
we must read and write thoughtfully. Perhaps God is
the ultimate English professor, and judgment day is
the moment when God red-pencils our autobiography.
Posted Apr. 15, 2004
John W. Sloat 2004