So, Christmas season is upon us already. My wife and I are less than two months from our baby girl’s due date. (Yes we have a name picked out, no you do not get to know it…yet.) Time is rushing by, and no matter how we choose to use it, or how much we attempt to tackle it, pin it down and make it pause for a moment while we gather our bearings, it does not. Deadlines still come, Christmas will pass us by before we know it, and our years of health and youthfulness will shortly be a memory.
It doesn’t feel quite right, does it? It doesn’t feel…natural.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell:
“If, on occasion, you notice the strange encapsulation we call time, you’ll understand it’s not our natural dimension. The birds are at home in the air. They don’t think about how to fly. Fish are at home in the water. They don’t think about how to swim. It’s natural. But you and I are cocooned, as it were, in this dimension we call time. And it’s not our natural dimension. So it is, we’re always wishing we could hasten the passage of time or to hold back the dawn. And we can’t do either. We’re uncomfortable with time because we belong to eternity. If we were comfortable with time, we wouldn’t have clocks on the wall and calendars and wristwatches. It is not our natural dimension, so time will whisper to you, in the words of another hymn, that you’re a stranger here.”
Time is, to put it simply, a strange thing. It is also impermanent. Alma writes that “time only is measured unto men.” In The Last Battle, the final book in C. S. Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia,” Lewis tells the story of the end of the world, the end of the old Narnia, and the beginning of a new one, the real Narnia, as that realm gains what could be called its paradisaical glory.
In the final chapters, the Pevensie children observe the awakening of a massive giant known as Father Time. Aslan, the Great Lion, tells them, “While he lay dreaming his name was Time. Now that he is awake he will have a new one.” Time, writes Lewis, is only an illusion. Only a fiction. A dream.
In describing the new Narnia as compared to the old, one character tells little Lucy Pevensie, “When Aslan said you could never go back to Narnia, he meant the Narnia you were thinking of. But that was not the real Narnia. That had a beginning and an end. It was only a shadow or a copy of the real Narnia which has always been here and always will be here: just as our own world, England and all, is only a shadow or copy of something in Aslan’s real world. You need not mourn over Narnia, Lucy. All of the old Narnia that mattered, all the dear creatures, have been drawn into the real Narnia through the Door. And of course it is different; as different as a real thing is from a shadow or as waking life is from a dream.”
So it’s actually okay that time rushes by. It’s okay that our lives pass like the Nephites’ did in the Book of Jacob: “the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a lonesome and a solemn people, wanderers” (Jacob 7:26). We, too, are wanderers on a different plane of being than our home. But we will return to that home, where time is no longer. And there’s no better time than Christmas to emulate what that home is: a place of reunion, of at-one-ment.
What might our celestial reunion be like? From the ending of The Last Battle:
“Everyone you had ever heard of (if you knew the history of those countries) seemed to be there. There was Glimfeather the Owl and Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle, and King Rilian the Disenchanted, and his mother the Star’s daughter and his great father Caspian himself. And close beside him were the Lord Drinian and the Lord Berne and Trumpkin the Dwarf and Trufflehunter the good Badger with Glenstorm the Centaur and a hundred other heroes of the great War of Deliverance. And then from another side came Cor the King of Archenland with King Lune his father and his wife Queen Aravis and the brave Prince Corin Thunder-Fist, his brother, and Bree the Horse and Hwin the Mare. And then—which was a wonder beyond all wonders to Tirian—there came further away in the past, the two good Beavers and Tumnus the Faun. And there was greeting and kissing and hand-shaking and old jokes revived….”
So with that thought, Happy Christmas, everybody. And take some time to remember not only the Christ child, but to what end He was born: to return us to our true home.