“a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,” – Ecclesiastes 3:5From Toni Clark:
On Friday I was having a catch up with my team, and asked how they were feeling at the end of our second week of working from home, social distancing, having children at home all the time and everything else that has changed to try and protect us from Covid-19. Someone said “has it really only been a couple of weeks?”. They went on to say that they couldn’t believe that not long ago they were picking up their children from school for the last time until who knows when – in many ways it has felt a lot longer than a couple of weeks and yet that is all it has been.
We have had several conversations over recent days about how long we have been in our current situations and we are all in different places, people living on their own with very little contact with others, those with children at home whilst they are trying to work, frequently feeling they have to apologise for the background noise when they are on calls, those who are just getting used to being with the people they live with 24/7 – but the consistent feeling is, it feels like we have been in this situation far longer than a couple of weeks and it feels like it will never end. That can be quite hard to get our heads around.
This verse in the Old Testament Book, Ecclesiastes “a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing” feels like it could have been written for the current situation, now is the time for us to gather in and social distance from friends and family – no hugs. The beginning of Chapter 3 starts “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…..” and this verse comes in the middle of a whole list of things that have a time in our lives. (If you know the song Turn, Turn, Turn by the Byrds then you will recognise this passage in the Bible).
What I love about this passage is that it reminds us that as we go through life there will be different times – some good, some bad, but none of them will last forever. In this time I find it really helpful to remember that. So in the coming days and weeks, when you are struggling, feeling that we have been in this forever and feeling like it might continue forever, you might find it helpful to read Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes. Be reminded that we will come through this and be able to look back and see it was only for a season, and we will be back in the season where we can embrace one another again.