Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Bitter sweetness

The past few months have been a mix.

Life is a mix.

A holiday walking in northern Italy. Engagement of our elder daughter. Younger daughter starting afresh at university. A cousin diagnosed with cancer a while ago approaching the end of this life. Our closest friends being told that they must change their beliefs and convictions or be unwelcome at the church they have been involved with for over thirty years. Long, long hours at work.

The leaves are falling from the trees. Winter approaches. And, in the words of Chris While, the night is stealing from the day.

Today as I walked I wondered what it is that ultimately wins. Life or death? There was a time that I sang along with the hymns that talked about death having lost its sting. I tend not to sing hymns any more.

Life, death. Beginnings, ends. Bitter, sweet.

Maybe each needs the other somehow.

There is, I think, no safety in life.

As Simon and Garfunkel sang ... a rock feels no pain; and an island never cries. But neither do rocks and islands smile.

To love, and to be loved it seems, is to find purpose and meaning. And also to lay oneself open to pain.

It seems to be the way that things are.

While I was in Italy I read through the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament of the Bible.

It’s kind of well known in parts:

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 cast 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 cast 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.

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

Ecclesiastes is full of contradictions. Wisdom. Foolishness. Hope. Despair.

A bit like life.

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