Monday, May 11, 2009

Time Binding

Sally and I watched Ratatouille on Saturday evening. I don't want to spoil the movie for any who haven't seen it previously, so go rent it, put it in your Netflix queue, or whatever. I'll wait....

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Done? OK. I love the wonderful scene in the film where the malevolent food critic, Anton Ego, comes to the protagonist's restaurant, Gusteau's, with the intention of writing one more bad review, destroying the restaurant. Our heroes, Remy and Linguini, serve Ego a simple peasant dish, ratatouille. As Ego takes the first bite, his mind travels across time and space. He is a child in a country cottage again, being served ratatouille by his mother. The resulting, remarkable transformation results not only in a glowing restaurant review, but in Ego being transformed as well.

This scene is a great example of an aspect of time binding. Time binding refers to the ability to link time in our minds, and to understand the relationship between the past, present and future. I specifically associate time binding with words, events, or objects that result in our moving out of the awareness of chronological time, linking us with other times and places in and beyond our lives.

For example, the scent of rain on hot asphalt brings back memories of childhood. The aroma of baking bread can transport us to grandma's house as if the intervening years have disappeared. Forgotten boxes in the attic serve as time machines, reminding us of places, people, and times in our lives long passed. This phenomenon, time binding, is what Anton Ego's transformation in Ratatouille so wonderfully illustrates.

Yesterday, on a beautiful, sunny spring morning, Sally and I lived out a time binding experience. As we worked in the yard and garden, we decided that it was a good day to scatter Sally's dad's ashes. We brought a portion of Joe's ashes to Spokane from Grand Junction, Colorado, following the memorial service for Sally's mother in February with just this intent. 

Joe loved his fruit trees, and we loved their fruit, including the wonderful sweet apricots from the "family tree". Two strong, young apricot trees raised from seeds from that hearty stock stand in our backyard. A recent addition, a Montmorency Cherry tree, now graces our budding orchard. We anticipate tart pie cherries just like those grown by Joe in Grand Junction.

In yesterday's glorious sunshine, Sally and I cleared away a ring of wood mulch from around each of these trees, and sprinkled some of Joe's ashes around each, adding our tears in the process. We remembered Joe, his outward manner so often tart and sour, his inner sweetness so available to those willing to invest a bit of themselves in finding it.

Time binding. A Disney movie illustrates it as a flight of mind to a childhood cottage. Philosophers and theologians describe it as the movement from chronos to kairos. On this weekend, Sally and I shared it in the placement of a few ashes, and the anticipation of luscious fruit. Time binding. The old hymn had it this way:

When we are called to part, it gives us inward pain; 
but we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again.

Joseph Forsythe McMillin (1914-2003)

1 comment:

  1. OMG, I could barely read this without crying outloud. The power of time binding can overtake gravity. It reframes everything we understand about who and why we are....