The Times

There is an occasion for everything,
and a time for every activity under heaven:
a time to give birth and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to uproot;
a time to kill and a time to heal;
a time to tear down and a time to build;
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance;
a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing;
a time to search and a time to count as lost;
a time to keep and a time to throw away;
a time to tear and a time to sew;
a time to be silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.
— Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
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This weekend and a few days more was a time to be sick and a time to miss out; ironic enough that it’s when your too ill to get out of bed that you don’t actually want to be in bed to skip something.

I have found that I most often get sick when it is long overdue to slow down, maybe providential, the forced door slam on efficiency and production that tend to dictate my perceived worth and value of self. Between the dirty kleenex and extra hours of healing sleep, it was hard to determine whether or not my ailment was something to be upset about or grateful for.

My frustration is that it feels like I just slowed down, not but a month ago, ten full days beachside with family members. My legs still are shedding the sun, literally, peeling off in satisfying flakes no matter the amount of moisturizer applied. I can’t hardly shake my fist, as it takes too much energy to even think about doing as I sleep for the third time of the day, savoring every last dose of comatose that medicine brings. The frustration is that I knew I needed to stop, but I felt like I couldn’t.

With a similar timbre of voice, our author, Qohelet, rings in chapter three with a chorus of “disquiets and delights,” as coined by Zack Eswine. Wisdom seeks to know when the proper time is to do something (Proverbs 15:23), and as each line follows a similar pattern and dance as the one before it, we are quickly reminded of both life’s beauty and bleakness: we are not in control.

The citing of opposites in this way is a common figure of speech—a merism—denoting completeness.
— Wilfred G.E. Watson

The cadence of each line doesn’t say that all of these disquiets and delights are prescribed, but as Tremper Longman says, it describes the gamut of human experience.

I have often partaken in the poetry of our teacher as a fool, mistaking the times to be their counterpart instead of what they really were. I have searched when I should have counted lost; tried to plant when it was time to uproot.

Yet, following Lady Wisdom has also portrayed me a fool in other’s eyes; giving when hoarding reigns, dying to self when “doing you” rules the day. Even here there is that tango, the balance in step that requires acknowledging that even in the long list of yes and no, imago Dei has not the same imprint on us all, diversity far more than just ethnicity and gender. Our interrogation must start inward, all the while leaning heavily on the Partner that leads these steps, the One who was part of the making of this dance. It is a time to agonize in our humanity, and a time to rest.