‘Time is an ocean, but it ends at the shore. You may not see me tomorrow”
It’s the last line of a song. I always thought it was profound, but actually I don’t really know what it means. It might be all envelope, and no contents.
I clock on another year tomorrow, so perhaps that is why the line has surfaced – and I do sea the boundary of the Irish Sea most days. It may not be an ocean, but you can’t tell that from the shore.
However, having had the on-going experience of fellowship with God, time, if you address it, is endless. On earth it is definitely finite – and always grief-inducing – but even in death, for people whose faith has no particular shape or catalogued history, it is hard to imagine that a life has ended when the body’s existence has finished.
The song the line comes from is ‘Oh Sister’ from the album Desire by Bob Dylan. It is really a song asking for someone to recognise their relationship and value it. It is thought it was written for Joan Baez, who wasn’t too impressed with it’s sentiment, and wrote a clever and scathing reply, titled, as you might have guessed, ‘Oh Brother.’
The key to eternity is relationship, it is knowing God. Jesus said so. John 17.
I remember one time when the horror of the possibility of eternity in hell struck me quite emotionally and hard. I had trusted God by that time, so it wasn’t an intellectual game, but asking the ‘what if…’ question, having some personal insight into reality from a God perspective. I was, quite unexpectedly, counter-struck by the realisation that, if Jesus was with me, hell, or wherever else I ended up, was not going to be a problem. Hell dealt with.
In some ways it was a very simplistic thought. But it wasn’t manufactured, and the realisation of God’s love, and the shape of his salvation, conveyed in that revelation, still holds true.