In my foyer there is a Grandfather’s Clock dating from the mid eighteen hundreds. Its origin is German. Before it came to me, it belonged to my husband’s uncle, a chaplain and Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force. It is a beautiful clock, and temperamental, but if I keep it wound, its gong is clear and loud and steady with an echo that resounds for nearly a full minute throughout the house.
On top of a china cabinet in my dining room, there is an Arsonia Mantel Clock that belonged to my grandmother, also dating from the eighteen hundreds, and may have belonged to my great-grandmother. My grandparents had it when my mother was born in Savannah, GA, and it traveled with their family to Panama City Florida, and finally to Dothan, Al. I remember my grandmother’s daily ritual of winding it. I wasn’t allowed to touch it then, but today, I’m the performer of that ritual and the receiver of its chiming.
These two old clocks have evaluated time for nearly two centuries. They have broken silence as they struck through births and deaths, through happiness and sorrow, and through all in between. In hours and minutes, these clocks have measured out the lives of many people, some of my family and some unknown. And as people died, the clocks continued to tick along.
There are many clichés about Time: Time is of the essence. Time heals all wounds. Time is money. But what is time really? To understand, we might consider its opposite.
As human beings on Earth, we cannot experience the opposite of Time–timelessness, or eternity. We cannot fathom ‘No Beginning. No End.’ Our everyday lives are full of schedules and the ticking of clocks.
Some lives tick slow and heavy like the pulse of the Grandfather Clock. Others are quick and lithe as in the tick of the Mantel Clock.
But if Time is how we measure out our lives here on Earth, then what we do in those hours and minutes and seconds we have, must signal something awfully important.
Just as in the ritual of winding the old Mantel Clock, we have a great deal to do with how our time on Earth will be spent and perceived. And as with the Grandfather Clock, there will surely be an echo.
What sort of reverberation will my Time on Earth create?
What lasting echo will I leave?