There is a Season

It won’t be long now. Just a matter of weeks. Maybe a month, at most. Once the house-warming activities and events are behind us—once the visits to see the new place have all been made—and once I have finished unpacking and have ordered my life here in these new surroundings, I will work on changing who I am. Not uncovering the man beneath hundreds of layers of masks but, instead, creating a new person.

This new person may include a few scraps of the old one, but he will be built largely from scratch. The new person will adjust to his surroundings, just as the old one is doing. Yet he will not simply adjust; his surroundings will become part of him. He will be part forest, part bird song, part dim light of the sun struggling through the trees to make its way to the ground. He will consist of cool breezes and torrential rains and the steam rising from hot summer mornings. And he will be part human, but only a little bit. He will minimize the human part because…because he has seen what humans can do and be. He will want no part of those hideous aspects of humanity, so he will replace them with gentle philosophies and gratitude and acceptance of a world unchanged by arrogant intervention. But he will build barricades, too, and stockpile the armaments necessary to repel intruders who might try to provoke a return to the way he was before he rebuilt himself into someone new.

I am not very familiar with the Bible. I have never studied it. I have never believed it was more than an amalgamation of stories intended to convey messages that often compete with one another. But it includes elegant slices of philosophy. And it contains language stunning in its splendor. Once passage I have read many times, usually with conflicting emotions, is Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born,  And a time to die;
A time to plant,  And a time to pluck 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 cast away stones,  And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,  And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,  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 of war,  And a time of peace.

There is, indeed, a time for everything. There is a time and a place for rage and for grief and for unrestrained passion. The time, always, is now. Now is all we have. Tomorrow is just a hope and yesterday is only a memory. Now is the time for everything. Now is the time to act. Yet didn’t I begin this post by saying “It won’t be long now. Just a matter of weeks. Maybe a month, at most.” The process must begin in this very moment. Planning is not acting. But acting without planning offers little hope for tomorrow becoming the “now” one wishes to experience. And, so, I plan for tomorrow’s Now, knowing Now may never come.

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“Why did they do this to us? We’re good kids. We didn’t do anything wrong.” The words of a little girl who survived the Uvalde massacre. I can barely stand to think about the unendurable pain the attack caused, and will continue to cause, for victims and their families and friends.

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The time is twenty minutes to six. Dim light in the sky beyond the darkness of the trees suggests the day is here, but the forest clings to night. The forest shields me from approaching day, but it cannot do it for long. Soon, trees will be fully visible out the window. The birds I hear now may be visible as they plunge from the trees toward the feeder, snatching nuts and seeds and flying away again. Everything outside my window is grey now, though, as if I were peering through the viewfinder of a camera that reveals the world beyond its lens only in black and white and grey. But there’s little white out there now; just black and grey. I can see the hood and top of my car, though; white. Both cars are in the driveway at the moment because the garage is jammed with stuff we have yet to unpack. We may decide some of the stuff is unnecessary. We may continue thinning for months. Or years. I look at that garage and long—again—for the time when everything I own will constitute what I am wearing and what I am carrying in a knapsack. Ach! Morning light is spreading like wildfire! Soon, the day will have irrevocably arrived.

Two and one half hours from now, I will join a group of male members and friends of my church for breakfast and conversation at Debra’s, a little diner four or five miles “in” from the west end of the Village. The road that runs from the west end of the Village to the east end is roughly fifteen miles long. I used to say Debra’s was in the center of the Village, but I know better now. I wonder how many people I’ve lied to over the years about the location of the place.

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Two chigger bites that I know of, so far. I loathe chiggers. I ache to live somewhere chiggers cannot survive. But I probably could not survive there, either. Damn. Time to stop dreaming about a chiggerless existence and get on with tackling the day’s challenges.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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