The Eighth Day
From “Easter and Ecology” by Rev. Dr. K.M. George
With scientific speculation on time becoming more and more complex in a universe "with no edge of space-time", as Stephen Hawking says in A Brief History of Time, the old image of the cycle re-emerges in the human consciousness in different ways.
Many ancient cultures represented time as turning on itself, as is shown by the cycles of the day, the week and the year.
To the early Christian theologians, the cycles of the week seemed to symbolize the meaninglessness of earthly existence taken into itself. Like the legendary Greek image of the snake swallowing its own tail, the seven day week returns to itself, repeating its cycle.
So the patristic tradition proposed "the eighth day", which broke open the cyclical chain of seven days. The seven day week represented the history of the created world; the eighth day symbolized eternity. Sunday, the day of the resurrection of Christ, was the first and the eighth day at the same time.
Sunday is the day of the sun, the source of life, the first day of the week, and symbolically the first day of creation. It is also the eighth day, the day of the new creation, the day of resurrection, which initiated all creation to eternal life.
The eighth day breaks the monotonous cycle of time and liberates time from bondage to boredom and death. There is no longer evening or morning to mark the bounds of the day, no sun or moon to determine the course of day or night.
The eighth day, outside the weekly cycle, signals the end of the fatalistic resignation to despair built into the ever-repeating cycles of history. It implies rest from the cyclical chain of work.
Industrial civilization has been marked by the assembly line, the infernal cycle of production to which human laborers are chained. The "weekend", which it invented to break the cycle and provide time to rest, is only the beginning of another week's cycle.
The eighth day of resurrection breaks the chain of birth and death. (We may note here the irony that many supermarkets are chain stores - a fitting image of the new slavery which is inescapable in industrialized societies and whose tentacles are spreading quickly to. the rest of the world.)
In the risen Christ, material creation enters the infinity of new life. There is no more recycling or bondage to the laws of time and space. Yet created matter is not annihilated but reconstituted according to a higher law. It is the untold possibilities for our life that are unfolded in this recomposition of matter, as shown by the resurrected Christ.
Matter does not now return to be recycled. It opens itself to the life of God, to the splendor of uncreated light. Time is permeated by Sunday, the day of light, life and joyful rest.
Time, the attribute of the cycle of birth, death and decay, now acquires a new quality and meaning in its open-ended hope in participation in God's own life.
Easter and Ecology
Rev. Dr. K.M. George
Complete article: http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article8028.asp
Copyright: Printed by Orthdruk Orthodox Printing House, Bialystok, Poland, 1996.
Source: The Orthodoxy and Ecology Resource Book is produced by SYNDESMOS, The World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth.
Editor: Alexander Belopopsky and Dimitri Oikonomou
The author. Rev. Dr K.M. George is a priest and theologian of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church of India, and was a member of staff of the WCC Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, Switzerland.