'What time is it?' is a question we ask often. Our lives seem to revolve around time. As a modern, connected, upward-moving society, we have come to rely on perfect timing to ensure that the cogs of what moves us onward and upward work precisely as intended and required.
While we generally concern ourselves with the time we measure in years, months, days, hours, minutes, and seconds, time also passes in less quantifiable increments. It's easy to miss these bits of time passing, if we are too focused on the minutiae of measured time; however, they are significant.
I recently attended the funeral of my uncle, who was a farmer. The officiant shared this Bible verse, as a metaphor for my uncle's life:
There is a time for everything.
There is a time for planting and a time for pulling up.
There is a time for the killing and the time for healing.
There is a time for tearing down a time for building.
There is a time for sorrow and a time for joy.
There is a time for mourning and a time for dancing.
There is a time for making love and a time for not making love.
There is a time for kissing and a time for not kissing.
There is a time for finding and a time for losing.
There is a time for saving and a time for throwing away.
There is a time for tearing and a time for mending.
There is a time for silence and a time for talk.
There is a time for love and a time for hate.
There is a time for war and a time for peace.
--Ecclesiastes 3 verses 2-8
This ode to time felt appropriate to honor my uncle, and all farmers, who certainly live by measured time like everyone else, but who also live according to this more imprecise timetable, trusting that everything happens in its time. Calves are born; cows die. Seeds are planted; crops harvested. Food is stored; waste removed. No one knows precisely when these things will happen, but all know they will happen.
Some versions of this verse use the term "season" in place of "time." "Season" suggests a span or stage, an age or epoch. Interestingly, the word "season" when used as a verb also can mean to acclimate or to soften. These two definitions of the word "season," taken together, suggest that time, or the season, will allow us to become accustomed to what occurs, if we are patient and trust it will.
As family and friends mourn the death of my dear uncle, we find peace knowing that his body no longer suffers, and that he will live again. At the same time, we anticipate the birth of our friend's new baby, appreciating the circle of life.
As I (and my sisters and friends) prepare to watch our children leave for college, the promise of an anticipated homecoming comforts us as we watch them go, as does the joy of watching them continue on their journey to become the people they are to be.
As we savor the fleeting summer days of August, we look forward to what Fall will bring, and then Winter, which will turn into Spring, before we are enjoying another Summer.
We trust that measured time . . . seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years . . . will never end. May we also trust that the seasons of time will also never end, and that every season of pain or sorrow will be followed by a season of peace or joy.
What time is it? Whatever the time, be joyful, for it too shall pass.
author of "JOY"