For everything there is a season
A Reflection for May Day
The first day of May, May Day, has been traditionally been marked as a day to celebrate the return of spring. Despite the chill, it was a glorious morning this year. At Marlborough College we were treated by the Chamber Choir singing the May Madrigals in Court from the Bradleian Arches. It was an opportunity to pause for just a few moments, listening to wonderfully sung music and feeling the warmth of the sun on our backs.
Those moments to pause can be hard to find in the busy lives many of us lead nowadays, but they are maybe even more important than ever. Because, I suggest, busyness can take over our lives in the same way other addictions can. Some of us will feel the relentless pressure of a continuous stream of emails and messages, whereas others, particularly with exams looming, can feel that there is still so much more to be done.
Especially at these times of pressure, it is fundamental – but hard – to find a rhythm of life that sustains of. A pattern that keeps us grounded, that provides us with a healthy balance of work, rest and relaxation.
Of course, this is nothing new, as we all know that to perform well, we need to eat, sleep and exercise. However, I would like to suggest that there is also a more spiritual side to the importance of healthy habits leading to a sustaining rhythm. Because, what we do when we pause, whether it’s by listening to music, going for a walk or otherwise, is that we step back to regain perspective.
When we do so, and the more we do it, the better we become at it, we start to realise that it is not us, not you, not me, who are at the centre of the universe, but we are part of something much bigger. And when we do this, we will notice that the pressure we feel starts to lessen. Yes, we still have those emails to answer, those exams to face, but when we know we’ve done what we can, we know we have done enough.
For Christians, this pause is best taken by setting time apart to pray. It is when we pray that we acknowledge God’s presence and authority, and by realising it is not us, but Him, who is at the centre, we start to be able to let go of what hangs over us. And again, as with every habit, the more we do it, the easier it gets.
So, time set apart is not time wasted, but time well used. It is this natural, God-given, rhythm of life that people throughout the ages have acknowledged and stepped into. In the famous words of the writer of Ecclesiastes:
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;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.