For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what 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 throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, 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 for war, and a time for peace.
September is the season to begin again, isn’t it? Vacation ends, schools and new jobs start, new students fill Boston’s colleges and universities. In Judaism, the New Year – Rosh Hoshana comes in September, more timely, it seems to me, that than the Julian calendar’s New Year in January.
Often September and October feel overwhelming to me – too many things to start, to pick up. Maybe this is true for you, too.
The poem above from Ecclesiastes, is attributed to Solomon. Ecclesiastes is one of the five books of wisdom in Hebrew Bible. This record of wisdom, younger than the holy Vedas of Hinduism, perhaps contemporaneous with the rise of Buddhism and its holy writings, is from 600-300 BCE – an ancient source of lived experienced wisdom called Koheleth.
Koheleth is a particular kind of wisdom that is not a collection of aphorisms or cute sayings where patterns of justice, fairness, and symmetry are resolved in discernable, fair, expected ways, but the observations of someone who, even though the pattern of God’s action and life events seem unregulated, indecipherable, chaotic, still longs to perceive God’s presence in everything. It seems to me that Koheleth provides a long view that does not subject God to our puny control, but sees what is – and accepts.
In our programed, striving, overreaching culture, this feels a comfort to me that September is not only a season of beginning again, but is also a season will come again. I need not perfect it nor wrench culmination from this season – I can be patient and cool, and see what the season of beginning again brings.
There will be other seasons, too, should I long to get on with things – a season to sew, a season to throw rocks, a season to put in a new furnace. Our spiritual work is with the now of now, to be present to the season, to see and notice what God brings, to live in this now, to learn, to be moved.
I pray we as a congregation are able to settle into this season, making the necessary changes, praying the needed prayers, repairing the world – the things that this season brings – and leaving next season alone until it comes. I pray this especially for folks who are in the season of grief, the season of moving, the season of new jobs, the season of waiting – to rest in the work and way that is according to our spiritual gifts – all for the repair of the world. May God be with us in this season.