“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven.”
Seasons… this is a foreign word for most of us in the modern world where light does not depend on the time of day nor our food options dictated by the time of the year. We feel the change in the temperature, we cycle through our wardrobe options, and we track our favorite sports’ seasons, but other than that most of us don’t think much about the seasons of life… (except of course to look out the window and make comments about the bizarre weather passing through at the moment!)
I know this is true in my life. I don’t yet have a deep sense of the word “season” as a lens through which I can see overarching patterns in my life. My life often feels so fragmented that I wonder if the pieces can be grouped together into something as broad as a “season”. I often find myself doing different things as the slivers of the day click by – alternating between one task and another so I don’t get bored or “stuck in a rut”.
Always keep moving!!
That seems to be the motto of our day. If you keep moving, keep working, keep stepping ahead with the latest technology, keep gaining ground in your career and your dreams, keep distracting yourself from any deep searching of the heart that might bog you down, then you will be alright in the end.
I have been thinking a lot about an ancient passage of wisdom literature that spoke of the reality of seasons in our lives – Spring seasons of new beginnings and new growth, Summer seasons of busyness, abundance and fruitfulness, Autumn seasons of transition, stripping and loss, Winter seasons of quietness, death, rest, reflection and waiting. The book of Ecclesiastes has a lot to say about seasons in our lives that are in direct contrast to our modern formulation of how we imagine life should go. We don’t envision cycles of death and loss and waiting as being a part of a well-lived life.
The third chapter of Ecclesiastes begins with these words: To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born and A time to die…
I wondered how a modern American version of this chapter might go…
Perhaps something along these lines –
A time to be born and a time to die
A time to pick up groceries and A time to microwave your meals
A time to order new clothes off amazon and a time to send them back
A time to go to Starbucks and a time to go to Panera
A time to go road tripping and A time to catch a plane
A time to message and a time to Skype call
A time to charge up your phone at night and A time to burn data on YouTube videos at night
A time to post on Facebook and A time to scroll through everyone else’s posts
A time to commute to work and A time to rush home to enjoy the weekend
A time for your children to go school and A time for them to go to gradschool
A time for yoga and A time for half-marathons
A time to go to the church service and A time to go to the football game
A time to buy with PayPal and A time to buy with credit
A time to run the numbers and A time to estimate the damage
A time to reach out a helping hand and A time to play it safe
A time to get a car payment and A time to get a mortgage
A time to get married and A time to get divorced
A time for anticipation and A time for discontent
A time for declarations of peace and A time for actions of war
These frenetic cultural patterns of life do not invite times of stillness and reflection on what the story of our life is all about. The original version is far richer and invites us into a much deeper conversation about what the times in our lives are meant for and how to receive each season in its turn.
In the upcoming weeks we will have two blog posts per week on the theme of this passage in Ecclesiastes 3 with one of the following titles exploring different truths that come to us as we experience the various seasons of life with a thoughtful perspective on what each season and time can teach us.
I will be joined in this endeavor by several guest authors who will be reflecting on this topic along with me bringing their own experiences and unique perspective as shaped by the insights gained through their own journey through these various seasons of life.
Here is the passage as it reads from the New King James version:
A time to be born and A time to die
A time to plant and A time to pluck what is planted
A time to kill and A time to heal
A time to break down and A time to build up
A time to weep and A time to laugh
A time to mourn and A time to dance
A time cast away stones and A time to gather stones
A time to embrace and A time to refrain from embracing
A time to gain and A time to lose
A time to keep and A time to throw away
A time to tear and A time to sew
A time to keep silence and A time to speak
A time to love and A time to hate
A time of war and A time of peace.
We will be exploring each of these themes in the coming weeks – one couplet for each week. The first post will be on Tuesday of each week and the second will be on Friday. Please join us for this time of reflection on this central chapter in the book of Ecclesiastes. I pray that as we go through this series together we may be encouraged along the lines of Psalm 90:12 – “to gain a heart of wisdom to know how to rightly number all the days of our life.”