AKA: Leap Day. It's the way the architects who have constructed our sense of time balance their calculations. They simply thrown in an extra day every four years and call it even.
I think it makes God giggle.
The Writer's Almanac explains it this way:
Today is Leap Day. Once every four years, we tack on an extra day at the end of February to calibrate our human-made calendar to the natural world — the Earth does not orbit the sun in an even 365 days, but rather in 365 days, five hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds.Every four years, I find myself vaguely amused about this whole Leap Year thing and the thoroughly human construct of time. Right now, I'm too preoccupied with the first part of my journey to Thailand where my sense of time will get bent backwards and then, in three weeks, forward again.
This extra day has given rise to several traditions and superstitions over the years, especially in the Middle Ages. In many European countries, women were allowed to propose to men on Leap Day. In Greece, it's bad luck to marry in a Leap Year at all, let alone on Leap Day itself. In Scotland, it's considered unlucky to be born on Leap Day, and it was once believed that Leap Day babies, or "leaplings," as they were called, were sickly and hard to raise. If you are born on February 29, you're eligible to join the Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies.
It's already tomorrow in that part of the world. So, when I leave tomorrow, on Thursday, I will arrive the same day I left. Or, something. Maybe I've got that wrong. Perhaps I'll be able to pick up the "lost day" on my way back home.
I can never figure it out. I just sort of 'go with the flow'. It's better that way, I've discovered. I never argue with time. It's too formidable an adversary.
Which leads to the entertaining thought that if the Apocalypse is scheduled for today, I suppose I'm headed in the right direction so I'll have a chance to beat the clock. Then again, if the Rapture is scheduled instead, well, I haven't heard from Harold Camping lately so I guess I won't know when it is, exactly, I'm to raise my hands to heaven and fly into the arms of Jesus.
Maybe I'll get myself ready, just in case, when I'm somewhere over the Atlantic.
Ms. Conroy reminded me this morning that we are supposed to wear blue and yellow today. I guess I missed the memo on that. Maybe it will arrive tomorrow.
Messing with people's sense of time makes lots of people squirrely (to wit: this kookie episode last week on 30 Rock). Take away that carefully constructed sense of past-present-future and we mere mortals lose all sense of hope that we are going to live forever - despite what was whispered to us by the angels since before we were born.
Some of us believe that we have "all the time in the world" and, in one sense, we do. We tend to "make the most of the time we have" when we realize that our time here on Planet Earth is limited.
We are finite. Mortal. And yet, we believe that, because of our Baptism, we are all bound on this Early Pilgrimage to return "home" to Life Eternal with Jesus.
I'm beginning to think, this Leap Day 2012, that perhaps Eternal Life is merely life without the clocks and calendars and seasons and schedules we have here in this life.
Who knows how much time "eternity" is, really? Maybe it's "eternal" because no one bothers to mark it or restrict it. Maybe God doesn't have a watch. Or a calendar. Or, even an appointment book.
Maybe, in terms of time (as well as lots of other things) we are our own worst enemy.
From my vantage point, gravity is a blessing and a curse. It's not so much time that wrinkles my face and causes my thighs and butt to drop. It's gravity. Keeps my feet on the ground even as it begins to reclaim my body.
Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.
Well, that's about as deep as I want to go on that thought this morning. I'm beginning to "run out of time". I have to take my leave soon or I'm going to run the risk of running smack-dab into "rush hour traffic" around the Beltway.
'Rush hour'. We even name the time when time seems to go faster. But, of course, it doesn't. In fact, 'rush hour' means that traffic will move more slowly than usual.
Do we have a name for the time when time moves more slowly? Ah, yes. We call that 'vacation'. Which, of course, always ends much too soon.
And so, off I go, into the weird timelessness of travel, to mark the 70th year of life of a dear friend because, hey, you never know where he will be if he is able to celebrate his 80th year of life.
I may just have to be content with the fact that this may be the last time I see him on this side of The Great Time Clock.
And then, we'll only have eternity to be with each other.
I think I just heard God giggling.