Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Poetic Justice of Time

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which 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 together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, 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 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.

Coming back down through the fog of a business trip last week—long stretches of flight time disengaged from any connection to news media—produced the jarring effect of entering the reality of bad news like a rough landing.

I took off early one morning with my family, having freshly been informed of the tragedy that ended some Christmas shoppers’ day in Oregon, landed halfway across the continent, and then entered another travel cone of media silence. By the time I made it to my destination—and squared the tally with some personal sleep deprivation—I again discovered how devastating the passing of one day could be. All of a sudden, I entered a world wracked with the agony of another senseless violent act.

While it is now “old news” to those wrung out with the constant repetition that is the media, I only now am beginning to sort out the pain of these stories.

In the meantime, an unexpected hiatus in this week of travel brought both a time of sad news—and a time of personal good news.

It has been almost a year since the last time I had traveled this way—out to the Midwest, a place of rolling plains, high winds and waving brown grasses as far as the eye can see. The last time our family had gathered there, we had come to spend our last moments with a dear relative caught unawares by a fast-acting cancer. The visit turned out to be our last goodbye.

Our family hadn’t been back there since. But last week, on our way from Point A to Point B, it worked out just right to make a stop at the old house which once was so sorrowful.

It was so comforting to see the rest of the family. Time heals, children grow up, and even though memories still bind us to those we remember with that melancholy fondness, we are all able to face our future with the brave resolve of doing what would have made that now-departed relative proud.

As it happened, the daughter of this deceased relative was expecting another baby. Like…now.

The visit was wonderful, but, mindful of the exhaustion of such a state, ended up being much too short. We resolved, at the end of our trip after we concluded our business, to stop by for an additional brief opportunity to visit.

The night before our return, we got the call: a trip to the birthing center was imminent. Within drive time the next day, we were now visiting the proud parents of a beautiful baby boy.

Our last three visits with this family had been owing to the somber occasions of death: first, this daughter’s father, then her mother, and also for my husband’s own mother’s passing. Now, as this couple observed as we said goodbye, we were finally here for a joyous occasion. How “poetic”—as her husband called it—that this time, we would be presented with a time of joy, a time to laugh, and a time to build up.

A time of birth…

Sometimes, we just need to believe, for every time under heaven, there is a purpose.

Top: the initial eight verses of the third chapter of the biblical book of Ecclesiates, generally attributed to the ancient Israeli king, Solomon; by more recent acclaim in its folk rock remake as "Turn! Turn! Turn!" holding the record as the number one hit with the oldest lyrics.

Above: detail from Johann Baptist Reiter, "Two Children Playing With Silk Ribbons," oil on canvas; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.


  1. Jacqi,
    I cant keep the tears back as I finished reading your post today.How bitter sweet for your family.Blessings for a sweet baby boy that will bring some peace in the family. God shared his own son so we can have forgiveness. Sometimes the bitter sweet reminders of his life is just within our own reach.
    Merry Christmas Dear Blog friend, to you and your whole family.

    1. Betty, thank you so much for your comment and Christmas wishes. You certainly have been through a lot yourself, and have your own story to share about that bittersweet life. Best wishes for a blessed Christmas for you and all your family, too!

  2. Along with birth comes hope for the future! What great timing ! How wonderful that you got to see the baby.
    I find great comfort in was the basis of my Father In Laws Funeral Sermon. I was also a child of the 1960's so I like the music too!
    Last week was a terrible national news week..:(

    1. Yes, last week was indeed a horrible week for national news...and yet I feel so disoriented for having missed the angst that we shared as a nation and a people. Even on a personal side, our family received two more bits of sad news within this week. It seems never-ending. Sometimes, faith is something we must cling to, because there's no other way to keep holding on. The "Time" passage in Ecclesiates is one I'm sometimes ambivalent to, but right now when it's so hard to make sense of Life, it's a mainstay.


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