As I was sitting in Sacrament meeting a few weeks ago, I was suddenly reminded of the scripture in Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 about there being a season for everything. You know the one:
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 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;
There is more to the scripture, but you get the idea.
And why was I reminded of this scripture?
Before me stood a tall, beautiful girl of about 15 who was receiving her young woman’s award. She was the epitome of what parents would want their daughter to be at that age. She had not only completed all the requirements for the award, she had excelled at them. As she looked out over the congregation, she was not the least bit shy or nervous. Rather, she exuded a quiet confidence far in advance of her years.
I was pleased to see this because I remembered back about 10 years when the picture was far different. Back then she was the terror of the ward in sacrament meeting. She refused to sit on her parents’ laps. She spent her time roaming up and down the aisles or crawling under the benches. Her parents had no control over her, and when other parents tried to snare her when she wasn’t looking, she screamed—the effect of which caused everyone to back off to avoid making a scene.
Her tyranny of sacrament meeting went on for several years, but for everything there is a season. There was a season for her rebellion, but eventually that morphed into a season marked by cooperation and growth. And then came the season for accolades.
You know the old story about the worst behaving teenager in the ward being the bishop’s son? Well, it happens sometime. I’ve seen it. It seems that for some teenagers there is the season for being “Goth.” A bishop’s son I once knew took it to extreme. In addition to wearing all black, this young man would sit in sacrament meeting with his colorfully dyed hair combed into spikes and his ears filled with piercings. At least he was in church, but over time even that ended as the young man led his poor parents through a Dante’s hell of drug abuse and failed rehabs.
Eventually he found himself working in the bowels of a fish-processing ship in Alaska and living in a tent—without parents, family, or friends. The season for being a rebellious Goth had apparently run its course. End of the road.
I think you saw the next part coming, and, yes, you are right. Today he is the elders quorum president in his ward and is happily married with a young and growing family.
My heart goes out to every parent in Zion with wayward children as they suffer through the bad seasons while looking forward to a season of better days. I empathize because my wife and I have been through it ourselves.
I once had a serious medical condition that seemed to be dragging on although the doctor assured me it would resolve itself. “Don’t you have some miracle drug or salve or something that will cure this,” I asked. “Yes,” he said. “The tincture of time.”
Indeed, the passing of time is what moves us from one season to another, and like the seasons of the year, they usually cannot be pushed to align with our wishes. But over time things change, whether in the seasons of the year or the seasons of our lives—sometimes for good and sometimes for ill.
For those of us fortunate enough to have lived in one ward for an extended period, we can see the seasons change—not right away, but over time as in the case of the young lady at the beginning of our story.
Once, as the home teacher to a sister from a part-member family, I had some trouble dealing with her sometimes hostile, non-member husband. But over time he mellowed. My wife and I used to bring him loaves of homemade bread. Since I was the baker, these loaves were sometimes as dense as bricks, but he accepted them warmly although I would not have been surprised if I learned that he used them for doorstops. After several years, we were invited to dinner and developed a warm friendship.
Then the seasons changed yet again when he was stricken with cancer. We used to sit by his bedside in the autumn of his life and talk about what it would be like to see Jesus in heaven. For example, what would he look like? My wife gathered up pictures of Jesus she had gleaned from old Ensigns over the years, and they jointly went over them discussing the merits of each until he selected a favorite. “This is what I think Jesus will look like,” he said. We hung it on the wall next to his bed.
After he died, I conducted his funeral, and several years later I stood as proxy as he was sealed for eternity to his wife. And thus we had come full circle.
Life is an endless accumulation of seasons, one after the other, one abutting the next, the whole constituting one giant circle—as the musical The Lion King would have it, the Circle of Life.
It’s the leap of faith
It’s the band of hope
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle, the Circle of Life.
When we are having hard times, it may be well to remember the old proverb, “And this, too, will pass.” The season will pass, thereby opening the way for another, better season to come.