Time Was Created for Story

What is eternal must always be complete, if my understanding is correct. So it is possible to imagine that time was created in order that there might be narrative – event, sequence and causation, ignorance and error, retribution, atonement. A word, a phrase, a story falls on rich or stony ground and flourishes as it can, possibility in a sleeve of limitation.

Marilynne Robinson
The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought

This is something I’ve thought about quite a lot this past year: How eternity is the natural state of things, and how the temporal is part of creation. Time didn’t exist until God decided to make it. He decided to divide our lives and experiences into separate moments, each of which must pass away before we can experience the next. Why is this? What was His purpose behind the creation of linear time?

It’s obviously a big question to ask, one with a potentially infinite number of answers. But my favorite answer is the same as Marilynne’s: story. In order for story to exist, progress must exist. In order for progress to exist, time must exist. I love this idea that God is not merely an author; He invented story, and He invented it because story is the best way of expressing any truth. Which is why Jesus chose to speak in parables. Which is why the stories we tell hold so much power: they express universal truths better than any other form of communication that exists.

Music also requires time and progress in order to exist. One note must follow another. Music is itself a form of story, one that everyone understands regardless of what language they speak. Our lives are narratives that overlap with everyone else’s, threads in a tapestry so enormous we cannot yet see the image they combine to make. And every story we tell, every song we write, is an attempt to glimpse and echo that greater tapestry.

I think that love, in order to be properly and wholly expressed, needs this grand narrative of the Earth and the universe: in order to act out its capability for reconciliation, redemption, and rebirth. Even the darkness is beautiful when seen in this context. In the end, the deepened shadows in the tapestry only serve to make the picture all the clearer, the colors in it all the brighter. Darkness serves a greater purpose even when it is deliberately trying to undermine purpose.

What is at the very bottom of the universe? What is the bedrock of existence?

To say “love” would seem trite to most people, but the more I think about it, the less impossible it seems.

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