If you focus your attention on time itself, you will clearly see that it is slipping away. Eternity is in our hearts for a reason.
And sundials are solemn for a reason.
“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?” Ecclesiastes 1:2-3
Solomon recognized the seeming senselessness of toiling under the sun in the temporal. It’s vanity of vanities. It’s all vanity. Vanity is defined as being worthless or futile. Hopeless. Purposeless. Marking time is depressing.
Sundials have captured this most depressing idea of time marching on. For a reason. If time is all we have we begin to acknowledge that we have little time and every day that marches on we have less than we had the day before. It’s slipping through our hands. A solemn realization. Again, sundials have captured this depressing reality that time is fleeting.
Sundials are known to include mottos or sayings about time and its fleeting nature. One sundial reads, “Tedious and Brief.” Because life is hard, and it’s short. The creator of the sundial sees the glass half empty. Honestly, most of them are pessimists. Or maybe realists. Another sundial instructs, “Make Haste but Slowly.” I guess the creator of this sundial recognizes that life is busy and out-of-control but admonishes you to hurry slowly. Another says, “Soon Comes Night.” In other words, vanity of vanity. It’s all coming to an end too quickly. Day will end too soon.
The psalmist understands.
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” Psalm 13:1-2
Indeed, how long? Apparently, considering eternity not long at all. Or not long enough. Life is short, and it’s painful. It’s fleeting and frustrating.
Another sundial creator says, “Life Passes Like the Shadow.” Shadows march on unimpeded. Unstoppable. Slowly but surely. Methodical. One sundial creator seeks to be a little more optimistic or, at the very least, instructive saying, “Use the Hours, Don’t Count Them.” Trying to put a positive twist on the unstoppable passage of time. Invest your hours, and don’t simply count them as they march on or slip away. Time is of the essence.
“For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2
Now. Eternity may be in our hearts, but it is intended to put a fire in us to respond to him in our temporal existence. Humble ourselves. Repent. Turn to him. Receive mercy. Receive grace. Today. Now. Salvation is only available now. And time is passing. Today is the day of salvation. Use your hours wisely. Don’t just mark them off by counting them. Make your hours count by turning to Christ and receiving the free gift.
Sundials proclaim solemn warnings for a reason. Urgent. Beware of the ticking clock.
Here is one final example of mottos on sundials. One states, “Even as You Watch I’m Fleeing.” The sun rises and sets. Repeatedly. Don’t waste your seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, or decades. Live in your temporal life wisely by making eternal decisions. Now.
Sundial mottos are solemn for a reason. Eternal decisions must be made in our temporal existence. And time is not kind to any of us. It marches on. Live wisely in your temporal days.
“The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises.” Ecclesiastes 1:5