1. a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
2. a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
3. a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
4. a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
5. a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
6. a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
7. a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
The sixth couplet is one that I find to be helpful in so many ways. There is a time to be distant and a time to be close...a time to speak and a time to keep silence. We need time alone and time with others. We need time to talk and times to refrain - or listen. This couplet reminds me again that Ecclesiastes isn't trying to say or suggest that one of these is good and the other bad. It isn't about either/or thinking, but one that can see the good, the bad in all of these moments.
Sometimes being apart can be a blessing...hence the cliche, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." And there is truth to that. Right now, my kids are at grandma/grandpa's house. I miss their energy and presence. I find myself focusing on the ways they bring me joy rather than how they leave dirty clothes on the floor. Being apart can also hurt us, especially when we don't know when we might reconnect.
Likewise, bringing things together (sew) isn't always what we should seek. This is true certainly in times of abuse, but also when we need space to process pain. To rush or race into bringing things together can sometimes be done haphazard, with the connecting thread hastily woven and uneven. I think back to my home economics class and my first attempts at sewing. It was not a gift of mine. No matter what I could not get the sewing machine to sew a straight line to save myself. It was jagged and zigzagged all over the place! The pillow I made was not a circle, but some mis-shaped hybrid of a circle, square, and rhombus all thrown together. Sure mom said she loved it, but then tucked it away in a "special" place. I think in a world where we microwave and immediately tweet our lives...where instant gratification is the cultural norm... we struggle with the slow work of the Spirit.
Equally, in a world where we feel like we have to react to everything, keeping silence can be counter-cultural and even revolutionary. To be still...let God get a word in edgewise...or just breathe and be. Those invitations are what our souls long for and rarely find.
What do you need to let go of right now? Is it a tangible item or a relationship that is causing more harm than help?
What do you need to bring together? How can you slowly sew the thread in prayerful ways to bring one piece of your life with another?
Where do you need to speak? And where would it be better to be quiet?
I pray as you let those questions simmer in your life, there will be more than a trace of God's grace.