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Sunday, 22 February 2009

A Time For Every Purpose

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions," wrote Thoreau, "perhaps it is because he marches to a different drum. Let him step to the music he hears."
It seems that the most enslaving thing in the universe is stepping to the march of what goes totally against the grain, when being 'out of step' is too fearful to contemplate. There are people who feel like curling up and dying for making a social gaffe; even people who do not feel complete if they are behind their neighbours in some kind of technology. The common practice is to label everything and everyone so people fear certain labels and cling to others.
It seems, too, that this 'enslavement' has taken us totally out of step to our own music - the real music of the spheres and the seasons and who we really are. We rail against deadlines - how apt an expression is 'deadline'? - and are governed by someone else's time unless we move with the reality of the seasons and the Earth.
Nature knows this far better than we do. The trees don't bemoan the long winter. They shed their leaves and patiently wait for the spring. The tides don't bemoan their ebbing, they patiently wait for the moon to govern their flow. The planets don't rush to be up at dawn or be in bed at a certain hour. They continue on their paths quite naturally.
Animals don't worry about the hour. They don't look at a clock and think, "Yikes!! I need to go to bed; I have to be up in the morning!" or wake in the morning to a nasty ringing sound and have to leap out of bed. They go on following their inner guidance, knowing it is all alright. People have their own peaks and troughs; highs and lows. Some are night owls, some are larks but we forgot how to make allowance for that when we all decided we had to walk in step.
It might seem like a pipe dream to imagine it is possible for a world or a city to function on such terms. But it could! Many years ago I spent time in a convent in Rome. There, there was all kinds of work to be done - from sticking together cardboard boxes, picking grapes in the vineyards and working in the fields, giving lessons in the school rooms etc. etc. - but people followed their instinct; they worked in the cardboard bit, till they felt it was time to move on. Sometimes they dropped everything in order to go and visit a place. It was so 'free' and yet so orderly because everyone was working - without the drudgery that often is equated with work - and everything that needed to be done, was done.
This very famous extract from Ecclesiastes says it all,

To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal ...
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance ...
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sow;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.

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