“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2     a time to be born and a time to die,
   a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3     a time to kill and a time to heal,
   a time to tear down and a time to build,
4     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
   a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
   a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6     a time to search and a time to give up,
   a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7     a time to tear and a time to mend,
   a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8     a time to love and a time to hate,
   a time for war and a time for peace.”

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

Whether you can kinda jive with the Bible, you sleep with it as your pillow, or you regularly participate in friendly neighborhood Bible-burnings, you MUST tell me that something about this is lovely, even if it’s just the proper use of a colon in verse one (King Solomon, holla-atcha-boiii).

I consider the words of Ecclesiastes 3 to be deeply true, and I will continue to believe that until I’m dead, I think, in which case I hope I will be standing or flying or existing in some ephemeral plane beside or below or any other preposition you pick in relation to some incarnation of the Trinity. And if I die and none of that happens, well then, I’m glad I’ll be dead so I won’t have to know.

There is time, I think, for a lot of things, and not just because Ecclesiastes says so. We are all born, and we all need to die, as much as Western modernist society likes to say “PLASTIC AND MACHINES ARE BETTER THAN NOTHING AT ALL.” We can’t stay cooped up in the same cozy, familiar nests forever; we have to fly, or bump down from tree branch to tree branch in the attempt. There are times to weep, and times to laugh, and some times when those two blur together.

It’s tricky, though, to tell when the time is right, to know what we’re called to do in the given moment. It’s very easy to scream, when you’re clinging to an empty leash in the sludgy snow at two in the morning, with grief freezing to your face, that it’s still a time to search, damn it. And it’s very easy to swallow, when you’re sitting on the bench in your seventh grade basketball game, watching Madison Vander Werp sink her hundred-billionth three-pointer, that there’s just a time to give up, you know?

Sometimes, I grow tired of people pretending they do know. I grow tired of people claiming the time to kill, the time to give up, the time to throw away. But I suppose I should, then, in equal measure, grow tired of people claiming the time to heal, the time to search, the time to gather.

But shouldn’t we cling more to one than the other? Shouldn’t we heal and heal and heal and heal and heal and heal and heal until we’re ferociously clinging to humanity with bleeding knuckles and spit in our face, until the final sliver of opportunity winks out, and it’s time to take a life? Shouldn’t we sow and sow and sow and sow and sow and sow and sow and sow and sow until we’ve nothing left, and we’re lying empty, soul scraping like a scoop in an ice cream carton, and it’s finally time to reap? Shouldn’t we love and love and love and love and love and love and love and love and love and love until selfishness and ignorance and blindness allow one human being to violate the humanity of another, and we must not endure it, and it’s time to hate?

Shouldn’t we listen? Shouldn’t we listen and listen and listen and listen and listen and listen and listen and listen and listen and listen and listen until we absolutely must be heard? And even then, shouldn’t our voice be heard in defense of another? And even then, mustn’t our voice be humble, even as it is just? There is a time to speak. There is a time to speak when the powerful trample the powerless and justice is not done. But even so, the cycle itself will never stop if we do not take the time to listen.

We must not assume that we are the voice of justice, even as we strive to be. We must not expect that we are the voice of reason, even as reason seems scarce. We must not be arrogant enough to believe that we have nothing to learn from those who are different than us, or even from those who appear to be the same. There is a time to hate. A time to mourn. A time to refrain. A time to speak. But shouldn’t it come when we’ve exhausted every possibility of love, of joy, of embrace, of silence?

“What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also laid eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Shouldn’t we listen? Shouldn’t we try? And not just half-ass it? We should whole-ass this shit, and try with all our hearts and minds and souls and guts to heal and sow and build and love. And listen.

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