To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which 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 to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time of love, and a time of hate; a time of war, and a time of peace
I swear it’s not too late
-Lyrics by Pete Seeger based on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
I have always been glad that I live in a place where the seasons change. While I can’t say that I always enjoy a lengthy, cold and cloudy winter or an oppressively humid summer, I know that eventually, the weather will change, bringing with it something new and different. As much as most of us have been anticipating the arrival of spring this year, none of us were prepared for the changes that have been thrust upon us.
As we continue to practice safe hygiene and social distancing, the apprehension and stress over what may happen next can overcome us. As I often do in times of stress, I find a great deal of comfort and wisdom in music. This particular song, based on Biblical text, could have been written with what we are currently experiencing in mind. Obviously, the time to be born and the time to die are particularly poignant right now, when we see such disturbing and frightening examples every day on the news. Our days seem to be more suited to weeping than to laughing, and mourning rather than dancing. Also, social distancing prevents us from embracing, which makes us feel even more isolated. However, I can find some good news in some of the other stanzas.
As Pastor Jen mentioned in a recent sermon, maybe it is time for some of us to cast away stones; a metaphor for getting rid of some of the baggage and self doubt that we all tend to carry around with us. Gathering stones together could mean taking the time to do a soul search; determining who we are and what we really want to do with our lives.
We have been given the gift of time, even if it is an unwelcome gift. There will be days when just getting up to face the day will take more strength than we think we possess. We will have days when we want to rip things apart in anger and frustration, but there will also be days when we sew things back together, do a puzzle, create something delicious to eat, or paint a beautiful picture.
Some days we won’t want to talk to anyone, but other days we will be glad for all the connections that we have and rejoice in a phone call or Face Time. Having lots of unexpected time may force us to slow down and really appreciate what we do have. I know I have spent more time walking and enjoying the beautiful flowering trees and bushes; listening to birds singing with a new understanding that these are God’s creatures who are not bothered in any way by what is going on in the world.
This unanticipated and dreadful season will eventually come to an end. I think it may be hard for most of us to just go back to business as usual, which may actually be a good thing. I have seen so many examples of kindness, dedication and love throughout this whole ordeal. People really do step up in times of trouble, putting aside hatred over differences, because, after all, we are all in this together.
The world after COVID 19 may look different if only because we managed to survive,
but wouldn’t it wonderful if there could be more love and peace in the world? I swear, it’s not too late!