Demosthenes Spiropoulos

Musings from a Wandering Monk:
Turn! Turn! Turn!

September 18, 2017 - Volume 3, Issue 6

To start this homily, let's jump right into scripture. I give you Ecclesiastes 3 (of the King Jimmy variety)...

    1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

    2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

    3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

    4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

    5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

    6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

    7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

    8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Now, if you're over the age of 40, you're probably thinking that you've heard this somewhere else. You would be correct. Allow me to present the lyrics for the song Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season) made famous by American rock band The Byrds...

The Byrds

    To everything (turn, turn, turn)
    There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
    And a time to every purpose, under heaven

    A time to be born, a time to die
    A time to plant, a time to reap
    A time to kill, a time to heal
    A time to laugh, a time to weep

    To everything (turn, turn, turn)
    There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
    And a time to every purpose, under heaven

    A time to build up, a time to break down
    A time to dance, a time to mourn
    A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

    To everything (turn, turn, turn)
    There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
    And a time to every purpose, under heaven

    A time of love, a time of hate
    A time of war, a time of peace
    A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

    To everything (turn, turn, turn)
    There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
    And a time to every purpose, under heaven

    A time to gain, a time to lose
    A time to rend, a time to sew
    A time for love, a time for hate
    A time for peace, I swear it's not too late

Pete Seeger is credited as songwriter here for making very minor changes and rearranging a few words. Please note: Pete Seeger did not write the Bible. Just want to make sure that is clear.

Moving on from this musical tangent, why do I bring this up?

With all that is going on, both good and bad (though it seems excessively bad for some right now), there will always be balance, and there will always be time to achieve it.

There is good; there is bad. We will all experience both, and in no particular order. More often than not, they will balance each other out. "A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance." It can't be all puppy dogs and candy canes. There will be some downtime. Whether physical, emotional, or psychological, there has to be (and will be) time to collapse. But there won't be too much down time either. There will come a time again to build up.

You know me, I like to mix my religions and worldviews. The First Noble Truth in Buddhism is...

    There is suffering.

Oversimplified? Perhaps, but it's true. And notice, it's not "there WILL BE suffering." It's "there IS suffering." If you're alive, you'll experience some level of suffering (and probably are right now). Harsh? Cosmically... not really. Again, it can't all be rainbows and lollipops. The fact that Buddha's teaching leads with that serves as a wake-up call to actually fix it (the Fourth Noble Truth instructs you how, if you want some independent study).

Back to the Bible, if you move a little farther along to Ecclesiastes 3:11 (using the Nivvy for this one)...

    He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart.

"Set eternity in the human heart" seems a little heavy handed, but I feel this version beautifully conveys the idea that there will actually be time for everything. We will have the opportunity to experience both "a time to get, and a time to lose." However impatient we may be, there is time.

You may be going through a stretch where it seems like good things are out of reach, but fear not, there will be time. Let's shuffle off to Taoism, where the Tao Te Ching, Section 22 teaches us...

    At that time, the deficient will be made perfect; the distorted will be straightened; the empty will be filled; the worn out will be renewed; those having little will obtain, and those have much will overcome.

When things are down, we may be tempted to say, "When will good fortune come to me?" or "Why is this happening to me?" But you have three major religion/worldviews telling you that there is a time for joy and it will come. Granted, not on any particular schedule, but it will come.

PLOT TWIST: I speak of when times will go from bad to good. But remember, there is a balance that will be maintained. If you started good, things may go south.

You're probably asking, "Whoa, D-mo. You're telling us things are looking up. Why are you killing the mood?"

Honestly, I'm not. I am giving you the proverbial heads up. I'm just reminding you that you must always be alert. In the Marvel movie Doctor Strange, Mordu tells Strange, several times in the film...

    The bill comes due.

If you take only one thing from this homily, pull the movie quote. Remember, the overall gist of this piece is balance. Life will balance us out, and when it comes time to settle our accounts, we'll find that we're going to break even at the end.

Started out sucky? The bill will come due, and you will repaid. Started out great? The bill will come due, and life will come to collect.

But don't get stuck in a black and white mentality. Life doesn't head in one direction. We live in a gray world. There will be multiple highs and multiple lows scattered throughout your life.

What you will need to do is brace yourself when things are down and look forward, with hope, for the new day that is coming, while simultaneously being utterly thankful for the great things that are in your life, as they may not be here tomorrow. Life is great. Life sucks. Life is both of things. Things will balance out, because no matter what we do, the world will continue to turn, turn, turn.

But what do I know? I'm just a wandering monk.

Thanks for visiting. Love, Demosthenes Spiropoulos