In this past week several people from a range of parts of my life have given me clear advice saying; “It’s your turn now”. Reflecting on my turn … my turn for what? To be nurtured? To be sick? To take up my old life? To create a new one? To turn towards? To turn away? What does it mean to turn? I can’t help but to go to Ecclesiastes for that timeless poetry Pete Seeger put to music in the 1950s:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
This has indeed been a season in my life – a long 9 year season, as I’ve written before, an ultra marathon. It has been a time where the purpose of heaven revealed itself a little more everyday. The incredible patience and diligence to stay the course. A dear sojourner of Tim’s, a wise elder in his life, wrote to me this week saying “Tim taught us how to live and how to die”. What if we lived knowing we had a terminal illness – which of course we all do – we are all dying each day – and yet how many of us embrace and savour the moments we have and saturate ourselves in joy? Br David talks about grateful living, which is beyond living with gratitude. It is a disciplined practice to live this way and one Br David’s 90+ years are testament.
The time to be born is in each and every single moment, to awaken to the moment with the bewilderment and openness of surprise without being hindered by expectations sitting on the precipice of disappointment. The time to die is embodied in every moment – the dying to ego and false self is an invitation that keeps arriving. The times for planting and reaping are never ending too, with the seasons coming and going with natural rhythm, and don’t stop just because our needs are changing, the sun continues to revolve around our little blue planet.
Times to kill and heal – killing off our bad choices, discomfort and anxieties can be inoculated or matched by acts of self-healing, and allowing others and nature to bring therapeutic and restorative powers. The gleeful giggle of a toddler will banish just about any thoughts of destruction. Yet we live in a time where peace in the lives of so many is for self-destruction and self-harm, let alone the national acts of killing that go on in our name. How easy is it to turn towards the joy, the peace?
The everyday choices we make towards make a difference to others, but most importantly to ourselves. Listening to Gill Hicks last night at a dinner to raise funds for a dinner for a peace foundation she re-told her own experience of making a choice for life when the seductive voice of death came calling and the choices a 19 year old suicide bomber made on that fateful day in 2005. Because of his decision, thousands of lives were changed that day and every day forthwith.
The times we have to weep, laugh, mourn, dance, embrace, cast away stones, and gather stones together …. these are those times. All mixed together times to turn toward and away from emotions, reflection and actions. All of these bundled up in every season of our life. And that life is a time of living and dying and we need to behave as if that is true (it is true) in order to squeeze all the joy out of all the moments so we can turn, turn, turn … keeping turning towards the light knowing that even in that light there will be shadows and times of darkness …because how else would be know the light without the darkness? And we all know that it only takes a spark to dispel the darkness.
My promise to tomorrow is to take my turn, as it is being offered, and at each turn make the choice to turn toward, to embrace, the season on offer, to greet it with the wonder and awe it offers unconditionally. After all, it is, always your turn.