I have been wrestling with “seasons” recently. Maybe because I have had so many funerals and memorial services. Maybe because the calendar says spring and the weather has been winter too long. Maybe because there are three more weeks of Easter and the church just finished a capital campaign.
The old cynic Qoheleth, the preacher in Ecclesiastes writes, “For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven:” (3:1) and then lists all the things most people already know. I already know that “there is a time to be born, and a time to die.” I understand about planting and harvesting, about weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing.
What I struggle with is how to be present in a particular season, a particular time. I so enjoyed the snow days in February. We hadn’t had any snow, but then, it was as if winter had come with a vengeance. Snow on Palm Sunday, record breaking cold snaps in April. Where was spring? I was ready to be on my bike, in the garden and getting out of heavy sweaters.
Sunday I used parts of Jeremiah 29. Not terribly unusual when working on a capital campaign, but there was one verse that surprised me. I had read it before, of course, but this time it made me pause anew. The most popular verse of that chapter is verse 11, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”
I love that verse, and while it resonates with me, it was not what made me pause. Jeremiah 29: 5 and 7 say this; “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce…But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”
It might as well been a billboard flashing at me….or a non stop text dinging on my phone. “Pay attention to where you are at this moment!” “Quit looking behind or looking forward or wishing for what is not going to happen in the near future!” You see sometimes I wonder what it would be like not to have so many demands on my time, my energy, my calendar. I think, “one of these days I will retire and I can….” You get the idea.
“Seek the welfare or wellbeing of where you are right now” is my paraphrase. “Look to the needs of your neighborhood, your community of faith, your organizations, your family and in looking to those needs, you will find your own taken care of.” I am not trying to advocate working longer or harder, but I found a challenge in paying more attention, being more intentional at focusing on this season, this time, this moment that I am living. I need to be reminded to be “present” and to “live” in this place, in this time, in this season. Longing for more time doesn’t create it, it only means I lose that moment to live out my life in way that reflects my faith, my values, my love.
At least today, I am paying attention to more moments, more people and more blessings. I am not wasting energy on what might be, but instead thanking God for the “what is” of my life: my ministry at West Heights, my family, my friends, a wonderful neighborhood and so many other places to be and to enjoy. My hope is that tomorrow I can do the same.
I am graced to Serve.