STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 11/10/2015

SPORKS Installation 21: In Time (excerpt)

The problem is that everything swirls.

In first grade, I am introduced to eternity. There is in the beginning, and there is also world without end. The spaces below my seat in church and the worn scoop of grass under the swing set outside are shrinking. I am inside listening to a man at the microphone say, “Christ is the One! He is it!” then I am on the playground feeling a light swipe of someone’s small finger slide across my windbreaker, “You’re it! You’re it!” I am playing, then I am praying. If I am praying, I could also be playing. I am aging, and I believe. But I am also always doubting. I come to believe that doubting creates belief.

I do not know how old I am. In the first sentence I am five; later, I am closer to now.

Now I am then.

My father dies at age thirty-seven, and I am four. The consistent message from my mother and Rick and Scott and Bob and everyone else who attends Centre Harbour Christian Fellowship with my family is: You’ll see him again. In heaven. In heaven there is no death, only life; no time, only—what? Pure existence, or Am. When Moses asked God’s name, He said, I Am. Many people try to tell me what this phrase means. Most of them try to find a word to finish God’s fragment. They want, “I am something.” They are satisfied only when God is one thing or another. If Descartes asked God’s name, the answer would’ve echoed back: existence. God thinks, therefore God is. I’m supposed to think God is there, and therefore I hope I think God is here.

Time then, is a waiting. “Don’t worry,” Mrs. Jackson says to me in second grade, “for God, a thousand years is like one day.”

“So,” I say, “if God says, ‘I’ll end the world next week,’ he means in 7,000 years?”

“Could be that long. Maybe not. The time could fly.”

To grow up as a Christian means that time flies away—it exists only to show that it doesn’t. When the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to a church in Thessalonica, he used the word we when referring to those who would be alive when Christ returned to earth. They began their frantic preparations, and so he wrote them a second letter to calm them down and explain that it might be them, but then, who knows?


In 1969, my father has to pee, and is having trouble figuring out where to find relief because he and my mother are at Yasgur’s farm listening to Country Joe & the Fish. In 1973 they find relief because they have stopped growing pot in their basement window and have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They are saved. Rick, Scott, Bob, and their other saved friends begin what will soon be called Centre Harbour Christian Fellowship—a nondenominational Christian church without any national funding or ties to any larger religious organization. When a railing breaks, someone in the church will secure it because they should, because they are saved and it is their turn to do the saving. When my father dies in 1987, more than one someone in the church tries to secure my mother, my little brother, my older sister, and me because they have to, because it is their turn to do the saving.

Look back—my father lives, has to pee, dies, and is in heaven. But he is not in heaven in terms of my earthly notion of now. His soul must wait for the Day of the Lord—but a day is a thousand; a thousand a day. The sleeping eyes of my father’s soul burst open as soon as cancer closes his brown ones, and he is in heaven, because now he is outside of time. I am in second grade when I realize this for the first time—that he is already with me in heaven and we’re joking about how lame earthly time is/was. In fourth grade I think about my entire existence—that everyone begins and ends in that blinking transition of my father’s eternal eyes. In fifth grade, Liza dares me to go past the school boundaries, marked by a crooked, moss-covered stone wall. “Life’s too short,” she says.

I say, “It’s already over.”

I put the tip of one foot over the boundaries.

Now, we can begin.


Bryan Parys is an editor/writer at Berklee College of Music and teaches writing at Gordon. This is an excerpt from Wake, Sleeper (Cascade Books, 2015), a memoir that was, in part, borne out of the writing style he began with SPORKS back in 2006. Perhaps you would like to buy a copy? Really?
You would? Super. Head to: