A Time For Everything
Wise King Solomon knew what he was talking about. There is indeed a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven. His writings in the Bible, Ecclesiastes Chapter Three are well-known, even by those who are not of faith. For example, a popular song from the 1960’s was based on theses verses.
In verse three, he says there is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. We know that is true because we all have experienced these things in our lives — the highs and lows, peaks and valleys. Life certainly isn’t a straight line.
King Solomon contrasted two extremes in these verses, but what happens when these two extremes occur simultaneously? What about when the weeping and laughing run smack dab into each other, when the gap between the two is so small you could slide a razor through?
That’s what happened in my family last month.
A Time To Mourn
The week before Christmas, in the midst of final preparations for a trip to Nashville for my son’s wedding, my aunt lost her battle with cancer. It wasn’t totally unexpected because she had been fighting the disease for several years. She seemed to be doing better when the cancer reared its ugly head in her body and treatment was, again, necessary. It was too much for her weakened body and she slipped away.
My aunt Kay, my mom’s younger sister was also my next-door neighbor. My family lived in the house next to hers for twenty-six years. We were neighbors earlier in my life also, when, as a teenager, my family lived in the same neighborhood as my grandparents and my mom’s three siblings. Those were fun years with all of us cousins, aunts and uncles living in the same neighborhood.
I had not seen my aunt in several weeks before she died. I missed our Thanksgiving dinner because I had a cold and didn’t want to spread my germs to her or my parents. (We were all trying to stay healthy for the wedding trip.) I was out of town some and also, just busy with Christmas and wedding stuff. I regret not seeing her.
One of the last times I did see my aunt Kay was in October, when we were in the mountains of North Carolina. My son and his fiancé were visiting along with some friends. One night, we had a big dinner at the cabin with everyone — my parents, some cousins and other relatives and friends. Aunt Kay went over to my son’s fiancé and apologized for not being able to attend their wedding in December but, she wanted her to know she had never seen Jay happier. That’s such a special memory for me.
They buried my aunt the Sunday before Christmas — a time to mourn while approaching the crescendo of the Christmas season. The next day, we left for Nashville.
A Time To Laugh And Other Things
It was a bit disconcerting to experience such a sad event and then switch gears as we anticipated an extremely happy event. It’s almost like we had to hit the pause button on the one to experience the other.
Isn’t that how life is though? Don’t we all have to deal with a range of emotions, often at the same time. Its not like God says “ok, you’re going to have five really happy months, but month six coming up — well, that’s going to be a rough one.”
And, we don’t all experience the same things at the same time. I suppose it would be nice if everyone was free of problems at the same time, it would make for a happy world. But, can you imagine the contrast? What if everyone experienced their most difficult times, their times of mourning or weeping in unison? It would be unbearable.
I think it is pretty amazing how we are created. Our Creator fashioned us in such a way that we can experience so many emotions, often at the same time. We can be deliriously happy about a wedding even though our hearts ache because we have lost someone we loved. In the midst of our joy, we can wrap our arms around someone who is sad and in turn, we can celebrate with others when our hearts are breaking.
It is interesting that we had this experience at a very joyous occasion for my son. His life started at a very difficult time for my husband’s family. We found out we were going to have a baby just days after my father-in-law died. Ecstatic joy on the heels of profound loss.
We enjoyed being in Nashville for the celebration of Christmas and the celebration of my son and daughter-in-law’s wedding. We enjoyed being together as an extended family, eleven of us in one house. It was a happy time. When we returned home, we celebrated the new year with my aunt’s family and made plans for the coming weeks and months — including a celebration of life in her honor close to her birthday at the end of the month. People who were unable to attend the service before Christmas will be able to come and share their memories. It will be a good time to remember even though we are sad she is gone.
Have you ever experienced anything like this? A time when you felt like your emotions had taken off on a roller coaster? If you are going through a difficult time, a time of loss, I pray that God would bless you with bits of joy, even in the midst of the sorrow.