October in Northern Virginia is an explosion of color: the trees are red, gold, orange, yellow, with a cerulean blue sky above. Our schedules are also more active with business trips, meetings, school functions, and sports of all sorts and varieties at the forefront of almost everyone’s life. It is no wonder that amid all of this activity and transition from one season to the next, life can feel more vibrant and more intense than at other times of the year. In fact, it may be especially surprising that while life seems to be intensifying on one level, with each falling leaf, with each completed sports event, with each passing day we move closer to a season of dormancy and stillness. This weekend we will once more “Fall Back” as our clocks return to what some would call normal time. For some of us this is a welcome event, for others the shortened days, and the gentle yet persistent journey toward winter is more of a challenge. Where, in the natural seasons of life, do we find meaning or peace?
God has chosen to create with seasons; seasons in nature and seasons within our human experience. We may be familiar with this passage from the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible:
For everything there is a season, and a
time for every matter under heaven:
² a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up
what is planted;
³ a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build
⁴ a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
⁵ a time to throw away stones, and a time
to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain
⁶ a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
⁷ a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
⁸ a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
What may be less familiar is a passage a few verses later:
God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him.
¹⁵ That which is, already has been; that which is to
be, already is; and God seeks out what has
There is an inherent collapse of time in this passage; an understanding that all that was, is, or will be…already is in God. No doubt such an understanding might be troubling as a feeling of inevitability creeps in! However, in saying “whatever is to be, already is…” there is also a hopefulness, an encouragement that we need not worry or fret that things will turn out as planned. As St. Julian would tell us, in God “all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” Within each season of life, within each moment, we have an assurance that God, the God of eternal love, has already enfolded us in love, and our baptismal vows affirm, “We are sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever.”
Are we afraid of loss? Of failure? Of change or of insecurity? Whatever we may believe about God, all of creation surrounds us, inviting us into a bigger celebration of what life can mean. Humans, whose days are measured in sunrises and sunsets, tend to measure life in numbers: the length of our days, the amount of our paycheck, the number of times we feel successful. And yet our lives are happening within a much wider, more vibrant relationship to the whole of God’s divine work, we are but one thread in God’s divine tapestry. So regardless of the numbers or our human perspective, there is a peace in knowing that all, the cumulative of all existence, is held within God’s eternal love and grace. Each sunrise, each moonrise, each light, each dark, our days are numbered as moments of all that was, all that is, and all that will be in God’s divine dance of eternal love…and so we dance with joy!