An Appointed Time for Everything

During the folk masses in my parish in the late 1960’s, one of the songs that we sang with some regularity was the Birds, Turn, Turn, Turn! (To Everything There is a Season). At some point, I came to realize that the song was adapted almost entirely from today’s first Mass reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes.

There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every thing under the heavens. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant….A time to weep, and a time to laugh..a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embrace. A time to seek, and a time to lose…a time to be silent, and a time to speak…

I wonder sometimes if I am any better at accepting the truth of this passage now than I was when I joyfully sang out the words of the song during our folk masses over forty years ago.

A Tibetan lama whose teachings I studied when I lived in Nepal and India used to accuse Westerners of having an “Instant Coffee” mentality. We want what we want NOW. We love e-mail because then we don’t have to wait for the time it takes to send something by post. We eat food out of the growing season of the area in which we live because not having a particular food item until it is naturally available is not acceptable to us. I could list plenty of examples, as could any of you, without any real difficulty, on matters of greater or lesser significance.

As hard as it is for us, I think there is some value in accepting that there is a time for everything, and that time is not necessarily now. Things have their own rhythm and develop in their own time. What a difference it could make to our peace of mind and our moods (and therefore, I suspect, to the happiness of those who come in contact with us) if we could simply embrace and accept those rhythms. If we could let go of our need for immediate satisfaction of whatever our current need or desire happens to be.

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