There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces. A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
We’ve all read the verses or at least heard the song. Every school choir seems to sing it at some point. It has been featured in movies and in books. Many reflections have been written about the words attributed to Solomon (although the author is not actually identified). But I believe there is a line that is missing, something that each of us experiences over and over throughout our lives – a time for change.
One could argue that every line in the passage is about change, and that is very true. Birth and death bring change as do tearing down and building up. Scattering and gathering can be catalysts for change as can seeking, losing, keeping, casting, rending, sewing, speaking, loving, etc. We are faced with changes, both large and small, time and time again, every day. I am reminded of this more and more each spring as graduation time is thrust upon us, whether we are ready or not.
My oldest, Rebecca, returned home from school yesterday after an emotional farewell to her roommates and her boyfriend who are graduating. They are moving on to the next stage of their lives, catapulting change not only on themselves but those around them. What will the future bring for them and for their loved ones? We can only guess. Jobs, graduate school, families, mortgages, and all that comes with moving into adulthood will now become reality for the Class of 2016. At every level – high school, college, and beyond, commencement brings change. Leaving home for the first time, leaving the comfort and safety of your school and friends, entering “the real world,” and saying goodbye are experienced by some for the very first time. For parents, whether it is your first child or your last, letting go is often accompanied by great heartache.
Though Rebecca has another year to go in college, the reality of change has really hit me this week. She will be entering her senior year at Mount St. Mary’s the same time that her sister, Katie, enters her senior year of high school. While one is looking at colleges, the other is looking at her future and trying to decide what it will hold. Both are eagerly planning and thinking about the next step while I hold my breath and close my eyes and still hear them cooing in their cribs, see them taking their first steps, feel them curled in my arms, so small and delicate and new. How has time passed so quickly? When did they get so big?
I think journalist Sydney Harris summed it up best when he said, “Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.” We know that change is good and that with each change, we grow as a person and experience life more deeply, but we long for things to stay the same or to return to a time in the past. At least, I know I do. I have loved every minute of being a mom. I have laughed and cried at every stage of my daughters’ lives, and I know I will continue to do so as they leave home, go to school, get jobs, marry, have children, and become the people God intended them to be. But there will always be a part of me who wants to turn back the hands of time and just enjoy those moments that I see now were so fleeting.
Change is inevitable, and the only thing we can really do is embrace it. Let change help us to grow, at every age and at every stage. There is always something to reach for. Even changes that are bad, ones that rip us apart, can lead us to a new understanding, perhaps a new friend, a new way to look at life. No matter how hard the next few years will be for me as a parent, I ask that I have the courage to both accept and embrace the changes that are coming and to see each change as a blessing, a chance to learn and grow, and a new season to be welcomed.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her latest book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her next book, Whispering Vines, is now available for pre-order.
You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015)