Imagine for a moment you are out swimming, or in my case, scuba diving and you come to the surface of the lake, or ocean.
You look around and even rotate 360 degrees in the water and nowhere can you see land.
Relax. Settle yourself.
The water is calm and flat and the sun in the blue sky above is not too hot and the temperature of the water is pleasant and comfortable.
Now if you where to hold out your right arm from the side of your body and let it lay flat on the surface of the water and then hold out your left arm and do the same, no matter in what direction your right hand and left hands are pointing, there is water without end.
Go ahead and kick your legs and rotate around with your arms still laying on the surface of the water.
This is eternity.
One hand is pointing in the direction of eternity in the past. It could be your right hand or left that is pointing to the past, whatever you are comfortable with. The other hand is pointing to eternity in the future. Where you are is now, this moment, this instant in time.
Because clocks and calendars are linear, September 1st is followed by September 2nd and before it was August 31st. We think of time like a train running on its rails. It is coming form somewhere and going somewhere. When we stand beside the tracks we feel wind, the air the train is pushing ahead of it as it passes.
But really, time is like you floating in the water with your arms stretched out. In every direction there is the past and in every direction is the future. It s only by you saying that one hand points to the past and the other to the future that you make a decision on which direction is the past, and which direction is the future.
If there were no land, only water, and the earth is round, we know that, and you were to swim tirelessly in the direction of the hand that points to the future in an exactly straight line, you would eventually arrive back at the spot you are floating at right now.
But you would be coming from the direction you believe is the past, from the point of view of the spot you are floating at right now. No matter what direction you choose to swim in, you will eventually arrive back at the same spot, from the direction of the past.
Time is not linear, and it is not like a train travelling on tracks from a departure point to a destination, which is the way we see it today, in reference to mortal life.
So many thoughts and sayings about eternity imply eternity is something tangible, that we can reach out and touch it. Some definitions of eternity say it is time without a beginning or an end, but we can only say ‘beginning’ and ‘end’ because we experience those things as birth, and death.On there surface of the water we are floating in, there are no markers with those labels.