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How Swift Our Minutes Pass!
Mar 1, 2008

Great God, how frail a thing is man!
How swift his minutes pass!
His age contracts within a span;
He blooms and dies like grass.

Time is ticking “swiftly” away, consuming the “minutes” that have been appointed for this life, as Mather Byles (d. 1788) exclaims in the second line of this poem. Occupied with numerous chores and responsibilities, both at home and work, most of the time we miss the point that all of this will come to an end sooner or later. Perhaps we tend to ignore the passing of time, or more truly, our sight has been veiled by a long list of daily activities. This does not mean that we should lock ourselves into a permanent retreat of prayer and worship, for this is not what we are expected to do in this world. Gulen explains the preferred “seclusion” in the “Halwat and Uzlat” he wrote for the previous issue of The Fountain: “Those who always feel themselves in the presence of God do not need to seclude themselves from people. Such people, in the words of Rumi, are like those who keep one foot in the sphere of Divine commandments and turn the other, like a compass needle, round the world.” We cannot stop time, but we can convert its transient value into eternal gifts. The lead article in this issue dramatically draws our attention to this inexorable reality, which is actually a blessing we cannot truly appreciate.

Another blessing we often do not realize the importance of is water. “Despite its very simple chemical composition, water displays some very peculiar behavior. Interestingly, it is thanks to the Mercy of God that these oddities of water make life possible on earth,” says Bill Sayoran in his “Water: The Molecule of Life.” This article will urge us to wake from our apparently active but inherently dormant state of existence, and it will help us to learn to be always thankful for water, not only when there is shortage or in times of drought.

The Opinion department features the contribution of a reform rabbi, Allen S. Maller. Considering the prejudices that continue to threaten peace around the globe, particularly in the Middle East, many arguments Maller proposes in his “A Reform Rabbi Learns from Muhammad” are worth reading to further mutual awareness between the Abrahamic faiths.

In this issue we start a new department: Science for Young Readers. Aimed at making science more accessible, this section introduces scientific articles written in a more approachable way. In this issue, a very-well (!) educated spider, taught by Professor Irfan Yilmaz, tells us about the unique talents and physical features that have been granted to him.