This is the tale of a man named Thomas … Thomas the Tinkerer to be precise. He lived a long time ago, or maybe it was only yesterday. Who can say, because his tale is about time.
Thomas loved to tinker with things. He fiddled with this, and he faddled with that. But what he most liked to tinker with was clocks. It was an obsession, really. Thomas would fuss with clocks day or night, rain or shine, good times or bad. He would whipsaw the wheel gears and percuss the pinions. He would lever the leaves and permutate the pitch. His house and workshop were filled with clocks tick-tocking away. When he went to town, he even tromped around with measured steps, exactly one second apart.
His neighbors would ask him, “How are your steps so precisely performed?”
“With time,” he would respond. “With plenty of time.”
Often, children would come to his workshop to listen to the whirring and clicking of gears and gadgets. He would have them march around his workshop repeating the rhyme:
Tickety tock, flickety flock,
Time to get up and set the clock.
Flibberty gibbet, slippity plow,
At last we know what time it’s now.
The local townspeople liked him well enough, other than when he marched their children around his shop. Thomas, on the other hand, had great distain for the townspeople. He scoffed as he watched them parade in and out of their churches, praying to God who offered heaven as their reward. To Thomas, heaven was no reward.
He had a form of Uranophobia, the fear of heaven. But it was not the normal fear such as many with the phobia had—a fear of standing in the presence of God. Thomas feared heaven because, to him, heaven would be a boring place to be. He simply couldn’t imagine spending eternity just singing praises and wandering around with a happy-happy-joy-joy smile on his face. He loved the change that every moment brought. Never knowing what was to come next, but always knowing it would be something different.
That’s why Thomas loved clocks so much. The past didn’t matter, and there was no present. The present could be compacted down into a fleeting nanosecond. All that remained was the next moment, the next minute, and the next demarcation of time. He keep listening for that next tick, anticipating another tock. He laughed at people who kept talking about living in the ‘now.’ There was no such thing, because now had no permanence.
Poor Thomas, though, he simply didn’t understand. He didn’t understand that the word eternal, in God’s vocabulary, did not exist. It was a useless concept, a mere construct of mankind. God existed beyond time, as he existed beyond space. After all, He created the universe, and you can’t create something unless you exist outside of it. No, man created time when they crashed out of Eden to live in the dust. It was a way to measure the passing of their lives from event to event, from then to now, from birth to death.
In the natural order of man’s time, Thomas too passed from life to death, as clinically observed by the instruments of time he loved so much. It was only then Thomas came to realize what eternity meant. It was not something without a beginning or without an end, with time relentlessly proceeding forward from one to the other. Beginnings and endings held no meaning. It was what everyone had called ‘now,’ stretched to its own reality … a perpetual present.
Poor Thomas indeed, he did not have to suffer his idea of heaven. He existed now in a dimension characterized not of tick or tock, but of ‘with God’ or ‘without God.’ He had chosen the latter, and now hung in permanent silence, waiting for the next tick of the clock that would never come. Even though he cried out in anguish for it to arrive, it never did. Without God to turn to for mercy, there was no one to ease his torment in the still silence. He was in Hell, and it occupied his every moment of being.
One thing was certain, though. Thomas the Tinkerer wasn’t bored.
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