Ritual Time

Timeless, it is.  The internet I mean.  The ultimate 24/7.  No matter the time, day or night, it’s always here.  And that’s good because time’s about to change again.  Daylight Saving Time ends, for most of us, tonight.  Then a few short months later, it begins again, disrupting sleep, productivity, and good moods.  As this story on NPR shows, it really no longer serves any purpose and there’s a great will to change it.  But then politicians get involved.  So nothing really happens about it and we yawn and stretch and wish we were asleep as we dutifully move the hands forward or back, hoping we remember the correct direction.  So it goes with tradition.  Religions are filled with actions whose meanings were lost long ago.  We do them because we’re told to.

This particular futility always makes me ponder critical thinking.  Autocrats and others who enjoy authority don’t really encourage it.  Who wants the masses thinking “why am I doing this pointless thing?  Why can’t I do something that makes sense?”  I suspect that’s behind a lot of the decline in mainstream Christianity.  People are busy, frantic, and worried about getting everything done.  Why take an entire Sunday morning (and it takes all morning) of the precious two free days afforded on the weekend, and spend it doing something the same old way?  Religions, we as students learn, are inherently conservative.  Problem is the world outside is changing, and more and more rapidly.  Two day weekends seem hardly long enough and something’s gotta give.

Time is something we are powerless to control.  Change, as long observed in east Asian religions, is the way of things.  Changing clocks then, only to change them back later, is an effort to control that which controls us.  Many of us, I suspect, approach this pointless ritual with a literal sense of weariness.  There are other things we’d rather be doing.  And many more that we’re compelled to do.  Is this some kind of spiritual lesson or simply an exercise in futility?  How do you tell the difference?  Ritual, in the best of circumstances, is comforting.  It reassures us that things are progressing according to some kind of universal plan.  Changing clocks creates a glitch in those plans.  Darkness is about to get more aggressive for the next few months.  Politicians bungle around in the darkness too, powerless to alter that which we do, for once, have the ability to change for the better.

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