Tag Archive: Ecclesiastes 3


A poem by someone who used to make speeches

There is a time and a place for everything that happens in this world.

A time to begin and a time to end.

A time for planting seeds and a time for pulling up weeds.

There is a time to cry, to laugh, to be sad and a time to dance.

There is a time to collect things together and a time to spread them out.

There is a time to share a hug and a time to hold back.

There is a time for finding and for losing; a time to keep things and a time to give them away.

There is a time for tearing and a time for mending; a time of speaking and a time of silence.

There is a time for love, and hate, and war and peace.

(based loosely on Ecclesiastes chapter 3, verses 1 to 8)

Nothing lasts for ever – not good things, nor bad things. When the good things happen, enjoy them. When the bad things happen remember that they won’t last for ever and look for the next good things.

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It’s raining again – at least it was when I last looked out of the window. The “April showers” look set to continue into May at least. A couple of days ago we had some welcome sunshine, a break from the rain and a chance to go outside without getting wet any time soon. That’s not the case everywhere where there has been flooding and, as one reporter put it, “the wettest drought on record”. The fact is that apparently we’d need several months of rain like this to replenish the ground water and when it runs off the surface or backs up the drains it isn’t really helping.

Meanwhile, when the sun came out a fragment of verse came to mind: “after the sun the rain, after the rain the sun, this be our way of life, till our work be done” or something like that. It comes from a song I mentioned before (last year) and is copied below. The sentiment is true, I suppose, and it reminds me of the story of the man who was phoned by his son who was in a bit of a state.

“Dad, everything’s gone wrong,” complained the son. “What do you mean?” asked the father. “Well, work is boring, the kids are behaving terribly, my wife and I keep having rows and to cap it all the dog is sick. Life is awful and I hate it,” came the tearful reply. “Don’t worry,” replied the father, “these things happen. It will pass, it will pass.”

A few weeks later they were on the phone again. “How’s it going?” enquired the father. “Great!” his son replied. “My work is good, the kids are fine, my wife and I are getting on famously and the dog is fully recovered.” So the father said, “Don’t worry, it will pass, it will pass.”

Glad that I live am I;
That the sky is blue;
Glad for the country lanes,
And the fall of dew.

After the sun the rain,
After the rain, the sun,
This is the way of life,
Till the work be done.

All that we need to do,
Be we low or high,
Is to see that we grow
Nearer the sky.

Lizette Woodworth Reese (1856-1935)

November

A time of remembering and wistfulness – the mizzly (misty and drizzly) weather that characterises this time of year does not help.

This 19th century poem captures the gloomy spirit pretty well.

November

No sun – no moon!

No morn – no noon –

No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day.

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,

No comfortable feel in any member –

No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,

No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! –

November!

Thomas Hood

For me it is a useful reminder that to feel gloomy, sad etc, is a reasonable response when the weather is dull, the nights are drawing in and there is less and less daylight as each day of the month passes.

This month also features All Souls’ day (kept by some churches on 2nd November for those who wish to commemorate ordinary folk who have died whom we know personally) as well as Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday with their recollection of those who have died in war and violent conflict. And if it so happens that November is when one or more members of your family have died … well, it can be a tough month. “Cheerless” is how James Reeve describes November in the following poem:

Things to Remember

The buttercups in May,

The wild rose on the
spray,

The poppy in the hay,

The primrose in the
dell,

The freckled foxglove
bell,

The honeysuckle’s
smell

Are things I would
remember

When cheerless raw
November

Makes room for dark
December.

James Reeve

At least it is only one month and maybe remembering happier ones can give us a bit of perspective. I have begun to learn that feelings, no matter how deep, wonderful or terrible, may last a short or a long time – but not for ever.

Peace be with you especially if you’re finding November particularly tough this year.

“Forever Autumn …”

…’cause you’re not here”.

The cassette tapes are beginning to stretch and convenient, portable players are hard to come by, so I saved up my pennies and bought the CD set of Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of “The War of the Worlds”. It sounded different – the sound was less ’rounded’ at the edges. To put it another way, with the CD it sounded sharper – ‘crisper’ if you want to be more complimentary about it. I’m not sure I liked the ‘better’ quality but I’m sure it’s as much a matter of taste as technical standards.

Having not heard this for a long time, I put the CDs on and listened all the way through (even through one mealtime which is against our normal rule but at least everyone was able to hear it – loudspeakers, not headphones). It got a more favourable reception than I had expected.

Once you accept that this is a version of H G Wells’ classic and original science fiction you needn’t fret about how faithful it is. In both this and film versions I lament that there is no mention of where I grew up, whereas the book does make a fleeting mention of it.

This is not the genre of music I would usually subscribe to (think Vaughn Williams, Tchaikovsky, Elgar, Katelby and, perhaps, The Wombles) and was first released at the end of the 1970s as two LPs (vinyl). I think it would have been classified as ‘pop’ music. It was the decade when the first of the “Star Wars” films were seen.

One of the most popular tracks is probably “Forever Autumn” (I think it may have also been released as a single) which is a wistful song coming in the part of the story when the narrator is missing his sweetheart.

“Through autumn’s golden glow we used to kick our way, you always loved this time of year.”

He is also coming to realise that the world he was familiar with was changing deeply and dramatically – nothing would ever be the same again. So he concludes that “my life will be Forever Autumn ’cause you’re not here”.

I think “forever Autumn” describes a feeling, a sadness, a nostalgia, that many people would recognise and that song connects with that feeling in its melody and lyrics effectively. It is true to that moment, you could say.

I am also bound to say, that even when Autumn arrives early, or leaves late, staying longer than we’d normally expect; nevertheless, it is not forever Autumn in the end.

That is to say, that the mushroom growing kit has not lived up to expectations. (see also “We have a cow pat in the living room“) The blurb on the box promised 2-3 crops. Strictly speaking that was accurate. Unfortunately, far from a boxful of mushrooms, we only raised two or three each time. A total of seven mushrooms works out at just under £1 mushroom.

The spent soil is now behind the garage and the box thrown onto the weedy compost heap. I took a look a week or so later on the off-chance that there might be some more mushrooms. No, not one.

Was this a waste of time? From the point of view of self-sufficiency, economics and obtaining a healthy crop, the whole experiment was a bit of a failure. I shall not be in a great hurry to try growing mushrooms again. For the record, the potatoes, strawberries and peas seem to be coming along fine.

Having said that, I don’t think that this was a complete waste of time. Failure is a natural part of life and it is important to foster a healthy attitude towards it. Failure happens from time to time for all sorts of reasons. We are not doomed to failure but neither are we always guaranteed success. To borrow a phrase from the old Preacher: there is a time to succeed and a time to fail.

You could go so far as to say that there are even times when doing something badly gives us freedom from the tyranny of perfectionism. It is normal to fail from time to time – it does not make us a failure. In the particular example here, the mushrooms failed to grow well. That does not mean that I am a failure. It does mean that I have a choice whether to have another go some time or to try something else or to stick with what I already do well.

To expect perfection all the time can be like expecting to be able to run and catch the wind, as that old Preacher might have said.

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