For Everything There is a Season
Author: Jean Abott
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted….. Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2.
I don’t know about you, but for me this is a time to think about seasons of life. The famous Ecclesiastes passage starts with these well-known words but continues about “a time to mourn and a time to dance,” and even “a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.” Now that’s getting close to home.
In this pandemic time, even though we may each be in a very different season, it is a time to reflect on our mortality. Some say that this fact of our mortality is what makes every day, every choice, important. And because we are creatures who can look backward and forward, we can’t help thinking about what it might look like if this season is our last. At whatever age.
What matters most? What do we want our legacy to be? How do we want to be remembered? We mark these reflections with documents – and those can be important. Our legal wishes may need updating. Our wishes for the kind of medical care we would want to receive are also important. As is who would speak for us if we get too sick to speak for ourselves. And this particular season – when own death is a possibility – should make this even more vital. Our choices tell our loved ones something about who we are; we model how to navigate this important stage for others. So our choices make a difference. Resisting death’s too-early call can be heroic. Fighting for a bit more time with those we love can be a sign of that love. As can relaxing into death and accepting it – even as we may yearn to find out how some of the craziness of this world turns out!
But real courage comes from having the conversations we need to have with those around us. To speak of our gratitude, of being forgiven for our human-ness and forgiving others for their human-ness. Ira Byock has suggested the four things we need to say before we or a loved one dies: Thank you, I love you, forgive me, I forgive you. “Grant us courage…” as the hymn says.
Our church is a haven – even if a virtual haven for the moment – in which we can ask questions, some of those that may not have answers; we can share our gratitude, or fears, our uncertainties in this “liminal” time. We also have practical tools and people to help you sort through what’s important and perhaps to nudge you to have those conversations and fill out those documents you’ve been putting off. The links may get you started. If you have practical questions, you can also drop one of us in the Ministry of Last Things a note. And if you have will and legacy questions, Louisa Young at Louisa.firstname.lastname@example.org is available for advice. There are some ways in which this new Zoomable world can bring us closer. What else more important do you have to do?