Friday, September 26, 2014

“How soon will we accept the opportunity to be fully alive before we die?”

“A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying [God]. It “consents,” so to speak, to [God's] creative love. It is expressing an idea which is in God and which is not distinct from the essence of God, and therefore a tree imitates God by being a tree” ― Fr. Thomas Merton O.C.S.O, New Seeds of Contemplation

Scripture Text: (ECCL 3:1-11 )
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 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 scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, 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 be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.

What advantage has the worker from his toil?
I have considered the task that God has appointed
for the sons of men to be busied about.
He has made everything appropriate to its time,
and has put the timeless into their hearts,
without man’s ever discovering,
from beginning to end, the work which God has done.

I think one lesson from Ecclesiastes is that we don’t control time, God does. God has made everything “appropriate to its time.” The author in Ecclesiastes expressed a spirituality of time that transcends our daily concerns with the mundane. There isn’t just a time to plant, or seek, or build, or laugh – there is an appropriate time for all things. God has set in motion the seasons of our lives and “put the timeless into [our] hearts.”

It is our task to discern whether the timing of what we face is “appropriate” in God’s grand creation. WE may think the time is right - to build, or to embrace, or to be silent, or to love - but what is God suggesting to us when we reflect more fully on what we are about to do? WE may feel this is the right time, but what does the quiet whisper of God tell us? WE may want to do something, and may be able to do so, but is it the appropriate time in God’s timeless call to us? And when our life draws to a close, WE may want to hold onto the many gifts of this wonderful creation, when God tells us the time is right to let them go.

Jesus admonishes His disciples at several points throughout the scriptures when he would say “it is not my time,” or that the time was not right. Holy people have the great gift of awareness, of being able to challenge whether what they are doing in every moment is connected with God’s call to them. Time becomes not a clock measurement, a calendar entry, but an elemental oneness with the Creator. It seems to me that the author of Ecclesiastes was able to put aside our human restlessness and anxiety about the future and received the gift of peace, of knowing the true meaning of time as God intended it to be. I think the author understood what the “timeless” was in our hearts – a yearning to connect with God the Creator, our great lover, the one with whom we belong for all future “time.” I suspect the author was able to accept the ebbs and flows of life as gifts from God, with hidden treasures of meaning and importance that could only be fully understood in the timeless gift of God’s love.

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