Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Sunday morning meds--"in its season"
“. . .that brings forth fruit in its season. . .” Psalm 1
If I hear only a phrase from Ecclesiastes 3 (“For everything there is a season. . .”), immediately, my mind spins a record by The Byrds, a late 60s rock group and I hear those famous verses set to the music of the old Pete Seeger tune.
Correction. Maybe I should say, it’s my heart that plays “Turn, Turn, Turn,” because I’m sure that the energy that spins that rock classic originates from somewhere deeper in my psyche than mind alone. My memories have significant baggage; in my heart the song will forever be wedded to flower children and the anti-war movement—and, inescapably, me.
That’s probably why I feel a kind of joyful liberation, an odd, lilting nostalgia when that song plays. After all, it’s my music that’s playing, not my parents’. My music used a legitimate biblical text that was right there in God’s holy Word. “Look it up,” I might have yelled, defiantly, at my parents. “It’s right there in the Bible.”
I don’t recall ever having such a fight, although I certainly do remember my God-fearing parents’ grousing about the rock music that blared (sometimes defiantly) from my stereo.
But what’s in the memory runs deeper than the issue of rock music. What the song did with a biblical text was build legitimacy for my own anti-war sentiment. After all, the Bible itself says there is a time for war and a time for peace. Maybe this is a time for peace. Maybe my parents are wrong about rock music and wrong about Nixon and wrong about Vietnam, I told myself. Play that song again.
Even though Ecclesiastes 3 will forever evoke within me a late-Sixties world of peace and liberation, there’s more to that series of verses; there may well be liberation there, but there’s also law and order because what the passage really announces is not simply that everything is legit, but that everything is legit only within its time. There is a season, after all. There’s good timing and bad timing.
And that’s where Ecclesiastes 3 and Psalm 1 appear to agree. That man or woman who is blessed, the poet says, will—and you can count on this—bring forth fruit in his season. Which is to say, at the right time, when it’s right for him or her to bear exactly the kind of fruit he or she should. This isn’t “fruit-basket-upset” after all.
I can’t help but return to the horrors of chaos here once more because, or so it seems, neither can King David. Here too, order is somehow blessed, it seems; chaos is anathema. Within the context of the late Sixties, the promise of fruit at the “proper” time sounds almost schoolmarm-ish. It certainly doesn’t sound like the sentiment of a rock group whose only other contribution to the cultural milieu was “Eight Miles High,” a celebration of the glories of hallucinogenic drugs.
But then again, maybe this verse’s intent is shifting in the mind of a man who, at 63 years old, really likes staying home at night. Maybe blessedness-as-order is as comfortable as bedroom slippers on a man who rather appreciates the long cleansing breath one finally takes once the grandchildren have left.
For everything, after all, there is a season. Like fruit that way, I guess.