|Psalm 90: 4, 9-10, 12, 15: "For a
thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the
night. [. . .] All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a
moan. The length of our days is seventy years -- or eighty, if we have the strength;
yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. [. . .]
Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom. [. . .] Make us
glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen
I Timothy 1:17: "Now to
the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.
Every moment of our temporal lives
is lived within the eternity of God. Indeed, it is God's everlasting nature that
makes time itself possible. The succession of events, every time recalled,
forgotten, rehashed, relished, or regretted, exists because God has given us the gift of
time. As such, our lives, birth to death, joy and sorrow, have a meaningful
pattern. They move within the continuum God has given us to experience. They
are sometimes hard to endure, sometimes pleasant to share, but they are always large in
their importance. There are no small stories.
Equally, God's gift of time establishes the patterns
of life, its rhythm, and its dance. Our heart beats in our chest and our blood
courses through our bodies because we exist in motion, moving from the past through to the
future. This suggests that two very important literary elements in art have their
most basic source in God's design: narrative plot and verbal rhythms. When we tell
stories, we are reflecting God's design for us. When we lovingly taste the cadence
of words, when we feel their ebb and flow in speech, when we sense in both poetry and
prose their innate music, we know a little better God as the Lord of the Dance, as the
Master of Time.
As such, stories and poems remind us that God calls
us to patience, that there are some gifts that can only be given, some skills that can
only be obtained, over a period of time. We are to live in God's kairos,
his own eternal time, his own plan for the unfolding of history, and this calls us to
reject the world's standard chronos time when it tempts us to live as if God
doesn't exist. Patience is the virtue that teaches us this. A story or poem
will often not unfold its wisdom or delight without a well-told development that expands
as it goes. Their gifts exist in time.
Story and poetry are part of being fully human, for
we are creatures of time. They are part of what God has made us to be. When we spend
time learning something, we can cooperate with God's lessons in patience
* * * * *
Central Insight: Plot and verbal rhythm
have their source in God's creation of time.
Suggestions for Application: Choose
examples of plot or language to illustrate this principle.