Friday, August 3, 2018
Ecclesiastes take six
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
I find the fourth couplet to be one of the most helpful and insightful. Gather stones and getting rid of them...embracing and not embracing. Or as Hamlet said, "To be or not to be, that is the question."
Stones for me are a metaphor of all the stuff I carry around my life. I carry around events/experiences/encounters. I carry around emotions. I carry around a desire for God. I carry around the past moments, I have not processed. I carry around fictional future moments that I have created/crafted and may not ever really happen. I carry around the present moment. All this makes me think of my kids backpacks. When they leave for school every morning the backpack holds binders and pencils and lunches and homework and water bottles and umbrellas. Chiropractors might see future clients! I see a parable for life. I may not carry a real backpack but there is an equal amount of stress and strain in my shoulders.
Sometimes we need to set/throw stones aside. This is what we do when we process the pain of the past. I am no longer going to let the anger/hurt/frustration of what someone said or did fuel and feed my life. I set/throw stones aside when I refuse to be afraid of the future. Or as Liz Gilbert said, "I will not let fear pick the radio station in the car ride of life." This is what I do when I stop rehashing old arguments or replaying the brokenness. Because the more we carry what was, the less we are able to see what is. There is, the wisdom writer says, a time to carry this.
I think about my mom's passing. It was a very difficult time, fraught with emotions for a variety of reasons. On top of it, we were in the process of moving. To say, there was stress is an understatement. It wasn't until a retreat almost three years later that I full grieved and came to terms with the anger/hurt I felt. Sitting among the trees, thinking back to all that had happened, the tears began to fall. A few at first, then the dam of holding back burst open. Chronos time gets wrapped up in the three years...kairos time says that it was a holy moment that was waiting for the opportunity. And, it isn't as though, everything is now chocolate rivers and pony rides. There is still grief, but the waves are a bit smaller and I have found ways to anticipate their ebb and flow.
Seasons of life that happen simultaneously within and around us...seasons of life that invite us to sense the fullness and richness. Seasons of life that are always more than any words can capture or contain or delineate or divide or compartmentalize and categorize.
What stones are you carrying?
What needs to be set aside?
What calls forth as needed and necessary as you continue life's journey?
May these questions, and especially the responses you listen to from your own heart/life, offer you more than a trace of God's grace today.