This summer of cancelled events has become a summer of rest and recreation for me. It has been an opportunity to live differently with more creative ventures, focused work on a long-term project, quietness, and lengthy times of reading the Word. It’s been a time to more frequently sit close with friends, to meditate, to hike in the nearby mountains; a time to see, to create, to be, to listen. Paul Mealor’s setting of “The Beatitudes” has brought beauty both in its quietness and its exuberant rejoicing – a reminder that “all that will be” is not yet.
It’s an unusual season. The words of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (KJV) come to mind and beg for a stream of consciousness response for our current context, so here goes…
3 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
This COVID thing…is a just for a season? When will things be normal? Since when is “what I perceive as normal” the ultimate reality? This poet is wiser than I…
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
Life has gone on. People have been born and died. Some have planted garden and already harvested a fruitful abundance; some have planted seeds and there is no fruit yet. “What is the purpose of my life?” ask the philosophers among us.
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
If this virus could be captured once and for all, it would be killed. Instead, it runs unpredictably about touching some with death and others with a mere cough. Physical healing is not guaranteed, but healing balm comes to all who are poor in spirit and encounter the King.
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
Sorrow because we cannot be with friends, yet laughter shared with those in the same house. Weeping changed to joy, so writes the psalmist (Psalm 30:5). But then, James says: “Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness” (James 4:9).
What is what? Does this make sense? Who is right? (Where does the virus live? Is it only in the air?)
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
Well, social distance, everyone! (but don’t neglect relationships)
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
Gain a summer vacation. Lose a wonderful time of singing with Oasis Chorale.
Gain extra time to be still before the Lord (if we turn off the news updates).
So, open our hands to give and receive, O Lord.