“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 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 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 get, 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 keep silence, 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, KJV
The growing season always brings me to crisis. The country girl side of my heart wants to be out in the garden, planting, weeding and harvesting, as the season demands. The writer’s part says “you should be working. You have articles to get done, another book to write, research to chase down.”
Dithering about which to do would use the time, but gain nothing. “No decision” becomes a decision of its own. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” says the writer of Ecclesiastes. My problem becomes, what should my purpose be right now?
Recently, I came to understand that the strange dichotomy of my intentions wasn't so terrible a dilemma as I thought. I could attain both goals if only I planned my choices.
Here's what I discovered: as I perform the manual tasks in the garden, my brain can be off outlining an article, working on dialogue, or blocking out the action of a chapter. The aroma of freshly turned earth or the pungent scent of thinned greenery can provide the background for thinking through a tough scene. While I stir the bubbling pot of future jam, I can test a rhyme scheme or meter. If necessary, I can tuck my digital recorder into my shirt pocket and dictate my thoughts for later transcription as I perform some non-writing task.
Later, while the seeds sprout or the jam cools, I can put my thoughts to paper. What I write when I do sit down holds the potential to be better organized than if I had begun with a blank page in front of me hours earlier. My time at the keyboard becomes more productive, even as the pantry gets filled.
I think of the outcome as a negotiated truce. There will still be times when my heart yearns for whichever activity I'm not engaged in at the moment. But now I can comfort myself with the fact that I am both a country girl and a writer, and the two activities aren't mutually exclusive. There is indeed a time to every purpose.
Father, thank You for a time for everything. Help me to find joy in doing things in Your time, and please grant me the wisdom to understand when the time is right. Amen.
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