Monday, August 6, 2018
Ecclesiastes take seven
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
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
Living in Florida means that I see many people face the reality of the fifth couplet. I witness how people are initially excited to shed their winter gear for the warmth and sun. I see how they settle into the Florida life there is a sense of relief to be done with the snow and a sense of grief at friendships from up north that will now consist of emails exchanged or Facebook posts liked or the week long visit in January. The initial euphoria of the move to the Sunshine state, one that as Ecclesiastes states was, "sought"...mixed with the loss, perhaps not foresaw, but now as real as the humidity in August.
One of my favorite quotes is that a single, "Yes" contains a thousand, "Nos". I can say, "Yes" to an opportunity, but it will mean I won't be able to do something else. And sometimes that reality means that we can get stuck in analysis paralysis. Because the options all have their appeal, we don't want to say, "No" to any of them. There can be the very real "Fear of missing out" (FOMO) on something. What would happen if you set an intention to be joyful for what is rather than what was not? Or as my daughter said at the end of our last vacation, "Don't be sad it's over, be happy that it happened." Wise words worthy of Ecclesiastes to be sure.
The second part of the couplet is equally as powerful in the place where I am. Daily I see folks needing to downsize or move into care facilities. They go from a two bedroom to a one bedroom to a shared room. Each move means letting go of things. I am convinced that this is not about clinging to possesses, but because so many of those items have the fingerprints of those who love who are no longer with us. Or because the act of touching the tactile thing can transport us back to a meaningful moment. To us it may look like a half used candle but to someone else it was on the table at a fifty anniversary. To us it may look like a shirt, but to the one letting go, it was what they worn the last time she saw her spouse. Sometimes the church can sound so harsh that we should only cling to God and we can let everything else go. But God gave us communion ~ tactile bread and juice ~ because grace is something we need to touch not just talk about. Part of the reason why it is difficult to let things go is that we tend to rush in the transition rather than slow down. We tend to do this work alone rather than with others who can hear our story about the candle and shirt. I don't have some magical answer, but I do think that if we invited someone to help us in times of moving to smaller space...if we shared the story of the candle or shirt or ticket stub...we would know that the story of love now lived in another, which might help us let go a bit easier.
I pray that if you are in the midst of losing or letting go...you would seek out others who can walk that valley alongside you. And I pray even more than there would be more than a trace of grace in that experience for you both.