It seemed a strange Sunday School lesson for 10-year-olds. Ecclesiastes 3, with its “time for every purpose under heaven.” As I read through the chapter, I paused again and again as the times referenced rushed into memory:
A time to be born, a time to die…my grandchildren, my mother
a time to heal…my sister who is struggling with chronic health issues
a time to weep and a time to laugh; finding out an old friend has terminal cancer; seeing my youngest grandson swing for the first time
a time to mourn and a time to dance…watching my friend Barb hug her mother’s ashes to her chest; my great niece’s wedding, where Gary and I were the couple married the longest
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing…married love; married fights
a time to keep silence and a time to speak; discord at our church; discord at our church
a time to love…making dinner for the homeless women sleeping at my church
a time of war, and a time of peace…the evening news; the prayers of God’s people.
A time for every purpose…
I’d been thinking a lot about time lately—how fast it goes, how much I’ve used up. How much I have left. I guess that’s what happens when you get to be my age and begin to buy more sympathy cards than birthday ones.
But my 4th and 5th graders at church? How could they, so fresh and young, relate to the sage’s long list of the times that form the fabric of our lives?
I clicked around on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKP4cfU28vM until I found a video of the Byrds 1965 hit, “Turn, Turn, Turn.” (Don’t tell me you don’t remember it!) I played it for my Sunday School class. “They have funny haircuts,” one girl said. “And clothes,” another added.
So much for my visuals.
But as we got into the Scripture, the kids became more involved. Amazingly, they could relate to many of the “seasons” mentioned. They had seen younger siblings and cousins born. They had stood beside the caskets of grandparents. Farm kids, they had planted seeds and harvested ears of corn. They had done silly dances and cried over hurt feelings. They had gotten in trouble for talking too much. They loved their dogs and their parents. They knew war was bad and peace something to long for.
I’d forgotten how smart and intuitive kids are.
Our craft was gluing puzzle pieces on a brown tree drawn on a piece of construction paper. Irregular in shape, these mismatched pieces represented the variety of experiences we all would have as part of our lives. We needed something to tie the picture to Ecclesiastes 3. “God is with us in every season of our lives,” I wrote below the tree. The kids dutifully copied the words on their own work.
And sitting there, among puzzle pieces and globs of glue, the truth of that statement hit me. These youngsters, with their whole lives ahead of them. Me, with a big chunk of my life already lived. We were all at the same place, really. In God’s constant care. Living one day at a time, season after season. Savoring the diversity of the experiences and emotions we would look back on and call “my life.”
Next week I am retiring—after working 25 years for a company I love. (Thank you, Guideposts!) I have had opportunities I’d never dreamed of; challenges that kept me on my knees; made friends that enabled me to be better than I really am. I am leaving a lot behind.
A time to mourn, but also a time to dance. A new beginning! More time for my family, my church, my prayer life…ME. God is with me in every season of my life, and I can’t wait to see what this season will be.