The Longest Day (BBC Pause for Thought 22 June 2017)
Officially, the summer solstice is the longest day – almost 17 hours of broad daylight. However, in my experience the length of the day depends largely upon what I happen to be doing. How could I ever forget, for example, those interminable history lessons at school. The clock on the wall all but froze as the teacher apprised us of the fascinating exploits of Oliver Cromwell and his gallant roundheads.
Thankfully I am no longer subjected to such torture, but now I find that on the sacred days when I fast, time does drag on a bit. I have never been a huge fan of bodily privation, I have to admit, but for the sake of my soul it must be done, so once a month or so, I man up and stay out of the kitchen for a long hard day.
It certainly does seem to me that time stretches during testing periods. A friend once had a serious incident while driving. His car overturned at speed and he told me that it seemed to take several minutes, when in fact it all happened in a few seconds. On the other hand, as we all know, time flies when you’re having fun.
Einstein spoke about the relativity of time in relation to the speed of light and it is also discussed by Krishna in the ancient Sanskrit teaching Bhagavad Gita - but in a different way. There it is said that time depends upon the observer’s consciousness and that time is a material phenomenon. The more a person is spiritually connected to God , the less time will affect them. In other words, although time swallows up everything in this material world, it cannot affect the true spiritual self, which is beyond matter and eternal.
The Gita says that realising this truth about the self means experiencing unending spiritual joy, forever free from the ravages of time. It’s something I strive for, but I have to be honest, I’m still some way from that spiritual joy on the days I have to fast.