Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Ecclesiastes 3.1-8

1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
 2A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
 3A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
 4A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
 5A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
 6A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
 7A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
 8A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

I got to read this once in Chapel. Hard to do in a way that makes it mean anything, I found, mostly because varying your tone in way that differentiates one pair of phrases from another rapidly becomes difficult. All of those repetitions don't mean the same in the way you might expect them to, either.  Well. They're all about balance of one sort or another and there's solace in that rather Buddhist idea. That everything has its opposite, that generally the good times and the bad times go together and nobody gets just one or the other.  I'm not sure that a piece of practical criticism is right.  I was tempted.  I suspect there are a dozen sermons you could find on every line, not to mention on the whole passage.  It's a bit hackneyed, really.  But the aphorisms have a place in a secular existence.  Sometimes you need to start from the bottom up.  Sometimes you get to reap the rewards.  Sometimes you have to cry to remember how to be happy.  Sometimes you have to throw stuff away.  Sometimes you need to let your hair down.  Sometimes it's for you.  Sometimes it's for others.  Sometimes things are over.

Sometimes they start fresh and new and full of promise. Optimism.  Hope.  Smiles.

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