I no longer measure my seasons by external calendars. For most of my life the seasons were spelled out for me by academic calendars, by church calendars, by Big Events happening in the life of people I love. But I no longer have much accountability to those calendars, and where I dwell, the seasonal changes in nature are extremely subtle, and the historical predictions attributed to each season here have become notoriously unreliable. It’s hard to tell which season it is by looking out the window.
I note this week after Labor Day in a prayer book I use repeatedly, that I called this time two years ago, a “Season of Pilgrimage.” Last year I called this same time slot a “Season of Nesting.” I received an e-mail yesterday that asserted that we are in “a sad, sad season,” referring both to the losses in our own community and to the horrendous losses in the worlds in which we live. I return to Ecclesiastes again, where the Teacher observes in the well-loved lines of verse and song, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” (3:1), then limns out couplets of antitheses that are readily obvious for most of us in the course of our human life. I am aware of how many of them are happening simultaneously in the worlds I inhabit right now:
- a time to be born—someone is expecting a grandchild
- a time to die—this week alone there is news of the home-going or process of crossing over of several people in my ken
- a time to plant and plucking up—we are designing a drought resistant garden in the face of meteorological realities where we live
- a time to kill—in horror I watch with the rest of the world at the violent murders that unfold before us daily on our screens under the guise of news
- a time to heal—I am offering prayers daily for those in protocols and procedures in the service of wholeness—chemo, IV’s, proton therapy, physical therapy…we are fragile and finite human bodies, who are made in God’s image…
I continue to pay attention to what is present right now as I go down the list: times of weeping and mourning: yes!; sessions of laughter and dance–inevitably!; keeping the most precious remembrances and throwing away or recycling twice as much; a call to silence–often! and a time to speak, many times with fear and trembling; it come out of the silence; loving? always! hating? I certainly recognize it when it creeps up in me. And we are at war, and we desperately need peace. I cannot categorize this season!
So I remember the Word of the prophet Malachi, talking about the nature of the Holy One to the community in a season of unrest and lack of clarity:
I the Lord do not change! (Malachi 3: 6a)
In Christian scripture James echoes that theme connecting it to divine care and provision:
Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17-18)
The seasons, they go round and round, as poet Joni Mitchell has sung. But the God of the Seasons stay constant in essence, in character, in intent, in Love for the created world, but with much more Mystery to explore and to discover by those who are seeking. Perhaps rather than trying to name my season this year, I should look once again at the Mystery we call God, for how and where that Mystery is present in each of the “times,” and what I am being invited to be and to do in those places, grounded in trust and certainty that I am loved, called and accompanied all of the days of my life.