There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
We mark so much of our time by routine, order, and busyness. We check off the days on the calendar. We tick off our to do list. We watch the clock to see how much time has gone by before we are off to the next activity.
But, the writer of Ecclesiastes seems to mark time differently. In these verses, time is measured by significant life events - times of laughter and tears, love and hate, death and healing, and so on. We often see time like a treadmill moving forward. And yet, when we look backward over the time we've spent, it is the significant moments in life that seem to matter most. The significant moments define us and mold us into who we are.
That's why we take special effort to engage in rituals around those important moments. We have birthday parties, funeral services, weddings, baptisms, graduations, anniversary dinners, retirement parties, and on and on and on. These are not simply parties and celebrations. They are ways to mark the time and say "something important and life changing has happened." They serve as thresholds from one realm into the next.
Of course, our current times are making typical rituals very difficult if not impossible. I have heard people lament in sadness and frustration about what is having to be altered. As the end of another school year draws closer, I have been particularly mindful of graduating Seniors. I think it is important to keep them, and others like them, in our prayers.
But, I also have a suggestion to all those who might be living through a significant life moment. Still try and mark the time with a ritual. You might not be able to do it the way you thought, but get creative so that you might recognize "something significant has happened."
Here are some examples to spark your imagination:
If you are celebrating an anniversary with a loved one, write letters to each other, put them in a time capsule, and bury them in your yard.
If you have a birthday, reflect on the gifts of the past year. Write them down and wrap them up as a gift.
If you are retiring, plant a tree or other kind of plant in your yard to mark the beginning of something new growing in your life.
If someone is graduating, organize a family zoom call where everyone shares how they are proud of the Senior and one hope for their future.
It doesn't have to be fancy, nor does it have to replace a celebration at a later time. Just don't let the moment pass by without recognizing it. The significant moments are what make up our lives and where we find God at work. After all, as the passage from Ecclesiastes eludes, all time is under heaven. So, mark the thresholds and remember that God is walking through those thresholds with you.
Peace be with you all,