By G. E. Shuman
Way back in 1962, a newly formed pop band, called The Byrds, put the words of the third chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes to music. They called the tune Turn, Turn, Turn, and even if you were not around at that time, I’m pretty sure the melody of that hit song has just sprung into your head. If it didn’t, I think you should find it, out in the ‘cloud’ somewhere, and listen to it. I always liked that song, for its soft notes, but more for those beautiful, borrowed words. Lately, as I get older, and very recently, as I see things changing around me, those words, as follows, have taken on even greater meaning for me.
“For every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven,” the song and the passage goes. “A time to be born, and a time to die, a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted.” “A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing,” it continues further on.
I very recently lost my younger brother. Last month he had his final battle with cancer, and now he is gone. That is an extremely sad thing for me; I do miss him very much. I wish I had more time with him now, and regret times that I could have spent with him, but didn’t. I have thought a lot about the fact that I hope to live for many more years, and that his life is already over. The very idea that he is gone is an almost surreal one to me. It just doesn’t seem possible. Turn, Turn, Turn.
On a much better note, of the song, and of my experience, soon after this edition of The World is in your hands, my family will have been amazingly blessed by the birth of our newest granddaughter. She will be number 12, in our continuing line of beautiful grandchildren. (Our children are probably not perfect, but their kids are. Trust me, I’m a granddad.) “A time to weep, and a time to laugh.”
I’m writing this column as I sit on the front porch of our old Barre City home. From here I can see my wife’s potted hanging flowers, and her big potted strawberry plant. Yes, it’s a potted strawberry plant. (Remember, we live in the ‘city’.) At the far end of our porch, beside the house, are my feeble attempts at growing tomatoes, beans, onions, cucumbers, and squashes. Don’t laugh. They may be feeble, but they’re mine, and they really are growing. Once it was a time to plant those seeds. Soon it will be time to reap what we have sown, in gardens, in farm fields, in our lives, and in our country. I hope we have sown good seeds in all. Turn, Turn, Turn.
“A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.” I’m not sure what the time to refrain from embracing would be. Maybe it means that there is a time for expressing love, and a time for being more serious and working for those we love. Scholars probably understand those words better than I. I only understand that we are to love one another.
Life, at best, is very short. That fact has been on my mind a lot lately. As I think of the past 62 years of my experience on this big beautiful world, I cannot believe how swiftly those years have passed. I really want to make my life last as long as I can. Don’t we all? I know that, even in my brother’s case, he fought his last bout with cancer for the purpose of having a bit more time with his kids, and with his own brand new granddaughter. Turn, Turn, Turn.
I certainly wish you and yours a long and sunny summer, and a long and happy life. Fall can be beautiful, but both as a season of the year, and a season of life, it comes far too quickly. Still, there really is “a time for every purpose under heaven.” if we will just use our time wisely. “A time to embrace” might be the time our world needs most right now.