Millennial Meditation

Zero-one, zero-one, zero-one

The dawn creeps forward,
hesitantly, modestly,
as a shy lover to the beloved,
hidden sun
lobbing warmth and light
over the horizon
through layers of mist
in noiseless drifts,
proceeding effortlessly as
from sleep to wakefulness.

Here in the most ancient of hills
of Southern Appalachia
languid snow falls with measured pace,
neither rushed nor ambitious.
Unlike the televised revelers
from Sydney to San Francisco
during last eve’s revolving
midnight watch,
the turn of time feels
especially fraught with
meaning, moment or emotion.
“Zero” to “one”—the language
of machines, not flesh.
Bands play, parades prance,
but who would know it
short of electronic signals received
from distant satellites
brought to life, byte by byte,
via modernity’s pervasive purveyor
of desire
(in “real” time, no less)?
Amazing. Simply amazing.

What time is it, really?

The calendar turns again,
only this time in multiple ways:
day, month, year, century,
Zero-one, zero-one, zero-one:
a once-in-a-millennium event.
Ten cycles of ten-by-tens of years
have transpired since ol’ Gregory
posited his new time-keeping calculus
(with Christian bias built on
Roman presumptions—by itself
a parable disclosing the dilemma
of culture-captive believers
of every sort).
Those of more ancient bias
are unimpressed.
For Jews, the year is 5761.
In the far reaches of the Orient
the Chinese mark year 4699
though even the religiously-hostile
People’s Republic function
under the Pope’s chronology.
At least with this year’s claim to
millennium fame (the “Christian”
timetable skipped from 1 B.C.
to 1 A.D. in a single bound)
the Y2K apocalypticists,
along with their religious counterparts,
have been silenced.
Amazing. Simply amazing.

What time is it, really?

By lunar or solar computation?
Do we reckon according to
Babylonian or Balinese or
Bahai regimen?
The Hindu or the Islamic Hirji
or the Himba people of Namibia,
who simply mark the new year
by the coming of rain (the two words
being the same in their language)?
Some forty time-telling calendars
are still in use, and not even Christians
can agree on their own,
with Gregory’s calculation splitting
East from West.
Amazing. Simply amazing.

So, what time is it, really?

A rabbi once asked his pupils
how they could tell when the
night had ended and
the day had begun.
“Could it be,” asked one
of the students, “when you
can see an animal in the distance
and tell whether it is a sheep or a dog?”
“No,” answered the rabbi.
Another responded, “Is it when
you can look at a tree in the distance
and tell whether it is a
fig tree or a peach tree?”
“No,” answered the rabbi.
“Then when is it?” the pupils demanded.
“It is when you can look on the face
of any man or woman and see
that it is your brother or sister.
Because if you cannot see this,
it is still night.”

The time is now.
The day has come.
The light still shines.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

©Ken Sehested @ New year’s meditation, 1999.