“To Everything There is a Season”

“To everything there is a season, a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

When I was young, I cherished a book I read called To Everything There is a Season.  I think it was some kind of romance.  I don’t remember the plot but I do remember the quotation in the beginning of the book.  It was from the Bible, and I remember going to my Bible and looking up the entire verse, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

Since then the quote has stayed in my memory, taking me through rough times and enriching the good ones.  When I was first married, one of my favorite songs was “Turn, Turn, Turn” (originally written by Bob Seeger) based on the Bible verse and recorded by the Byrds.  It seems to make sense that there is a right time for everything, and if we accept that, we can live through life’s challenges.

I think about this a lot as the seasons change.  The dying of the leaves, green changing to gold, then a flutter to the earth, a disintegration.  Soon we are held hostage to winter by enticements, hot cocoa, cider donuts, long quiet evenings by the fireplace.

Maybe it’s the expectation of the changing seasons we need in order to endure, just waiting and longing for the purple crocuses to show through the white snow or the first robin, the leafing of the trees.  We need the seasons, and there is no better way to know them with all their brilliant gifts and all their painful losses than to be a northeasterner.

Still sometimes grief grips tightly, holding on when we think it should be gone amid the sweet fragrances of spring and the softness of languid, summer days.  Then a leaf turns and falls, the skies are quiet, devoid of bird song, expectancy of spring changes to reluctance of fall in spite of what it tries to offer us.

Don’t be fooled, we tell ourselves, by the warmth of the fire that follows biting winds, icy air and driven snow, chilling our bones before the thawing.  And so we wait for hope with its elusiveness and evanescence, aware of its deception.  Sometimes there is just no nepenthe for grief.

To everything there is a season,
a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up 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 to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Photo Wikipedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Four_seasons.jpg

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