“To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).
Those words and the verses that follow them hold the whole of our earthly lives in brackets. They have a rhythm, a beat, a pulse like the one that thumps through our days:
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;
These verses do not mention God at all, but omit the soaring melody of life’s song and focus instead on that persistent, beating drum:
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;
How can eight verses summarize, so fully, an entire life? The language reads so simply that I can see why it would appeal to illustrator Jude Daly, whose paintings depict that simplicity in a gentle, detailed style. She does not touch the global significance of the words (these things happen to each one of us, after all), but instead focuses on a single, South African family, showing the seasons of the earth through the changing seasons of the family’s life together.
Her illustrations do justice to the verses, even the heart-breaking ones:
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep and a time to cast 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.
To Everything There is a Season is the sort of book that is enjoyable for its own sake, but that could also serve as comfort for families that find themselves in one of the darker times: the time to lose, to break down, to cast away, perhaps. It’s one that we borrow from the library every so often, both to remind ourselves that our lives here have a rhythm, a tune guided by a perfect conductor, and because it is, to put it simply, a beautiful book.
Speaking of seasons, Phoebe turned six months old today. That shouldn’t surprise us, but somehow, in the tradition of parents everywhere, we find ourselves caught off guard by the fact that time does that thing it always does and marches on, making our children older every day. With one kindergarten graduate under our roof now and one baby who was just born a week or so ago turning six months old, I find myself ruminating on the rate at which time passes these days (and, on a possibly related note, eating a lot of chocolate).
I think Lydia has been just as excited about Phoebe’s un-birthday as she has been about finishing kindergarten. Whenever I mentioned her last day of school, she sort of acknowledged that I’d said something about school and then added, “And then the next day? Do you know what the next day is? Phoebe’s six-month birthday!”
I can’t blame her, though. It is exciting.
And lastly (but not leastly), to Mitch: Happy Father’s Day! May your mustache be ever lustrous, your daughters ever reasonable and your garden ever weed-free and bountiful. From smallest to largest (that’s me), we love you.