Germans sing in solidarity with Italians. Picture: YouTube/bambergtw
Scripture reminds us that God intends for humans to experience life in seasons. This is expressed most clearly and poignantly in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes.
Ecclesiastes 3: 3-13 (NIV)
A Time for Everything
3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear 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 scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.
As Ecclesiastes so beautifully and powerfully expresses it, life is a series of opposite forces conflicting and interacting as history unfolds -- the history of humanity and the history of peoples or even individuals.
The outbreak of coronavirus seems to be a new season, a season of threat and a season of caring. The threat is very real, but so are the various ways we are devising to care for each other through this threat. We are surrounded by stories of how we are creating new-normals to be able to function in this new season; like virtual worship.
One way to manifest this time to care is to share stories of caring, and to help devise new patterns of life, some of which will be temporary--of this particular time --while others may survive, introducing a new season of caring once this season of threat passes on.
Many of us who are Baby Boomers or older remember hearing the words of Ecclesiastes as a very popular song by the Byrds in the 1960s called "Turn, Turn, Turn." What many of us don't know is that the song had an earlier season, in the season of folk music. "Turn, Turn, Turn" was actually written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s.
In an interview in 2009, Seeger confessed that he liked the Byrds arrangement of the song very much, especially the harmonies. In fact, the Byrds version became so popular that Seeger decided to perform the few changes in melody and lyrics that the Byrds introduced so that audiences could sing along.
"Especially the harmonies..." May this be true of us in the midst of this crisis, that we express our lives in harmony with one another as we, together, meet the challenges of and create new opportunities in this season.
Here is a version of "Turn, Turn, Turn" by Pete Seeger with a very young Judy Collins. Please enjoy it as you "hunker down" in this season of the coronavirus.