Pete Seeger wrote one of my favorite songs and the Byrds made it famous....but it actually comes from a bible verse I learned as a child in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. The verse goes, " To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the sun. 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 weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance ...a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;a time to lose and a time to seek; a time to rend and a time to sew; a time to keep silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace."
These are the words of Kohlat, the Preacher. Did you know that? I did not. I have read the words hundreds of times but had no clue who said or wrote them until I started searching. I know Pete Seeger and the Byrds were not around then...so they had to come from somewhere. They are timeless words. These words touch me. Some of it I do not like to hear. The hate, for instance -- what is that all about? I am a child of God and we are taught to love our neighbors...so where did the hate word come from and why? I found an explanation that I believed and wanted to share it with you.
"The Preacher, as he is called in Ecclesiastes, began by pointing out that for everything there is a season. Life, of course has its seasons, not just the seasons of the turning of the earth. We are born; we live; and then we die. We go through a lifetime of seasons and cycles. We go through puberty and then on into adulthood, and then we become elderly, and, hopefully, wise. Life waxes and life wanes. We notice the whole universe operates in cycles and seasons, and comings and goings. At the end of the cycle of seven days we practice the Sabbath and to be honest it's not terribly relevant whether you worship on a Saturday, a Sunday, or a Friday, or a Tuesday. The point is that every seven days we turn again to God and renew our connection. We take a journey, the journey is what it is all about."
"The Preacher then says there is a time for every purpose under the sun. The sun represents the great universal symbol of the higher Self, God manifest, the central source of light and life within the soul. So, there is a time for every purpose under the sun, under the soul, under our higher Self. Paul said, "Know this also, that now is the time and hour that we should awake from our sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than ever we believed (Romans 13:11).
A time to be born: Being born is symbolic of the consciousness being raised from the lower mind to the higher. This, is the second birth. The expression "to be born again" meant to change one's thoughts and habits. "
"A time to die. There is the physical death, but it is never a final death, because we know we are eternal beings. But metaphysically "to die" is to die to the lower aspect of oneself, because as we continue the journey and continue to raise our consciousness, we begin to lose contact with that lower, instinctual, animal part of our nature. That is the journey. And it is for all of us the goal. "
"A time to plant. It means to sow truth in the mind; affirmations in the subconscious. To plant seeds of truth and faith in our children; words of wisdom or consolation to a friend, that may be reaped years later. Sometimes you have the experience of being with a distressed friend and you say whatever occurs to you. Years later they say to you, "You know, you didn't realize it then but what you said to me changed my life." We have no idea when we sow what will be reaped. Its not our business. It is our business to sow; to share the truth that we know.
A time to pluck up that which he has planted. It is a time to harvest -- to reap the benefits of God's truth and God's good."
"A time to kill. Sounds pretty gruesome. But metaphysically it means to kill that part of us that holds us down; that limits us; the darker side of us. We all have a darker side. The way to get rid of darkness is to shine light on it; the light in the mind; the light in the heart. The more we open to light the smaller the darkness grows. "
"A time to heal: Healing comes through right-minded thinking which is to eliminate the sense of separation. There is only one basic problem in this world and that is alienation from one another; alienation at all levels. To the degree that we can handle that problem; to the degree that we can stop seeing differences and start seeing the fact that we are all one. "
"A time to tear down: To break bad habits of thinking; to give up prejudices; to eliminate our resistance to the fact of our own divinity, or to God. To sacrifice the belief structures that are no longer valid -- they never were, really, but now that we can see them more clearly; to give them up; to tear them down."
A time to build up: To lay a foundation of wisdom and understanding on which to build the structure of love and service to the family, to the church, to the community, to the nation, and to the world. "
"A time to weep: To weep for joy and to weep for sorrow. There are bitter tears at times; the kind of bitter tears that Peter wept after he denied Jesus three times, then realized what he had done. Jesus also spoke of a different kind of crying when he was carrying the cross to Golgotha and the women along the way were crying. He admonishes them, "O daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep over me; but weep over yourselves and over your own children." (Luke 23:28) Jesus knew he was going to his Father. The women and children would continue to suffer in this world. The shortest sentence in the Bible is, "Jesus wept." (John 11:35) -- a time for tears. "
"And then, of course, there is a time to laugh: Jesus said, "Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh." (Luke 6:21) So that is something to look forward to. The journey there may be tough at times, but the arrival is great."
"A time to mourn: For heaven sakes, why would we want to mourn? Of course we do when we lose loved ones to physical death, but the deeper meaning, here, is to yearn for spiritual awakening. Jesus said, "Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4) In the Psalms it is written, "Thou has turned for me my mourning into joy. Thou hast put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness." (Psalm 30:11) Translation: Hang in there! It will pay off."
"A time to dance: Dance is a symbol of harmony and rhythm. It is one of the stages as we open to the higher Self, to a higher meaning, to our higher nature. As we come into harmony with the higher nature there is a kind of "soul dance." We dance and sing to celebrate the triumph of the higher nature (Exodus 15:20-21)."
"A time to cast away stones: Metaphysically stones stand for truth and for knowledge. Why would we want to cast truth or knowledge away? Sometimes in the cycles of life it is time to stop learning and start practicing. There are times to stop the study and to assimilate what we have learned; to integrate it. There is a time to cast the stones away."
"There is a time to gather stones together. Well that's simple. Given that stones represent knowledge and truth, we gather that knowledge and truth -- the stones.
"Then the Preacher goes on to say there is a time to embrace. Embrace, of course, means not only the physical thing that we like to do, but it means to open to, and to incorporate higher truths into our understanding; to welcome new opportunities and new understandings. But it is still great to do the good old fashioned embrace."
"Then there is a time to refrain from embracing; to not accept what is not appropriate. Some of the things we have embraced into our lives require a second look and we discover it is time to give them up because they are not for our highest good at that time in our life."
"There is a time to lose: In the cycles of life there are times of diminishing activity. The entire universe is set up in these cycles. Scientists talk about the big bang theory There is also a time to meditate; to turn inward, and then to come back out into the busyness of life. We pay our bills; we live out lives; we raise our families. But there will always be a time of turning inward. It also means to lose outdated beliefs and prejudices."
"And then a time seek; Jesus said, "But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33) The Preacher, later in Ecclesiastes, says, "And I gave my heart to seek and search out wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven. To be engaged in it is a difficult task that God has given to the sons of man." (Ecclesiastes 1:13) That is what we are about. Whether we are doing it consciously or not, that is what we are up to."
"And then a time to tie up: To tie means to bind. "Whatever a man sows, he shall reap." (Galatians 6:70) The law is unforgiving. Once you trigger it, it responds, either to the positive or to the negative. So it is cause and effect. A time to tie up; a time to bind."
"A time to rend: There was an interesting practice in the Old Testament when, many times under stress of high emotion, the prophets would rend their garments. The rending of the garment is metaphysically a symbol of the rejection either of a truth or of an error. It also implies enlargement of the mind by the breaking forth of truth. There is a point in the trial of Jesus when the high priest rends his garments. It means he is refusing the truth and staying within his limited thinking. In other places in the Bible the prophets will rend their garments because of some error in thinking that is going on among the Israelites. What they are doing is rejecting the error. "
"Following that there is a time to sew: Not to sow in the sense of planting but to sew in the sense of repairing a garment -- maybe the garments that got rended! But when we repair the garments, we eliminate those portions that represent error thinking. The garment is our wisdom, our beliefs, our knowledge. What we must not do is put together a patchwork of beliefs and understandings. The truth is a whole cloth. What we must do, ideally, is focus on one teaching."
"And then a time to keep silent: To be still. In Psalms it says, "Be still and know I am God." (Psalm 46:10) Keeping silences and meditating."
"A time to speak: Jesus said, "What I tell you in the dark, [inner promptings] tell it in the daylight. What you hear in your ears, preach it on the house tops." (Matthew 10:27) What understanding God gives us within our own mind and heart must be shared with those who have not yet been exposed to the same light we may have received."
"A time to love. Paul said it so beautifully in I Corinthians, Chapter 13.:
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love in my heart, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal,
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love in my heart, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love in my heart, I gain nothing. Love is long-suffering and kind; love does not envy; love does not make a vain display of itself, and does not boast, Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not its own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil, Rejoices not over iniquity but rejoices in the truth; Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails; but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge it shall vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is imperfect shall come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke as a child. I understood as a child,. I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a mirror, darkly; but then, face to face. Now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. "
"A time to hate: A time to hate, in this regard, means to hate error; to hate the negative, etc. The Psalmist said, "He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; he who tells lies shall not tarry in my sight." (Psalm 101:7) Without deceit we are not short circuiting inside with guilt and are emotionally much more open to the guidance of Spirit."
"And a time for war: The war between the higher self and the lower nature is what is being spoken of here. In that same song of Moses that was sung after the Red Sea had been crossed, there is the line, "The Lord is a mighty warrior." It speaks to the war we fight within ourselves, not a war that is to be fought between us. In the Bible the wars always signify the struggle between the higher and the lower selves. There is also the war in heaven in which Michael and his angels cast our Lucifer."
"And then there is a time for peace: That means the union of the higher and lower selves; the integration of our minds. We know that peace begins within each of us, and that is how it begins. Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you. My own peace I give you, not as the world gives, I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled. Be not afraid." (John 14:27) Then Paul said, "And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)"
There is a time for everything, but the only time is now. Finally, to bring this to a close I want to share with a story you may have heard. This is the story of the Zen Buddhist monk who was being chased by some kind of beast and in his haste he doesn't notice the cliff ahead. He plummets off the cliff grasping for anything to stop his descent. He finally grabs a bush growing out of the cliffside. He holds on for dear life as the bush gives a little more and a little more. The outcome was inevitable and he knew it. He looked over to a little cleft in the cliff, and there is a beautiful ripe strawberry growing there -- of all places. The monk plucks the strawberry and puts it in his mouth. The taste is exquisite! The end was inevitable, but there was a time for being in the experience -- and he was."
What an awesome song, what an awesome scripture, what an awesome way to live. If we could only understand that there is a season for everything, embrace that fact, and live each season as it is to be lived....we would have such great experiences.
To Joey, With Love....WINNER!
6 months ago