A Time for Everything
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
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 refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. (Eccl 3:1-8)
[God] has made everything suitable for its time; moreover [God] has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end (Eccl 3:11)
Doing (or not doing) things at the right time can make all the difference; the timing of our actions is important.
“There is a time for everything,” says Ecclesiastes. All the activities listed are part and parcel of our life experience; the author does not pass judgment on what is good and what is evil.
If we read this text with the lenses of determinism and fatalism we might conclude that all of these things have to happen—that there is nothing we can do to make a difference. A liberating, community-centered reading however might show us that while these things happen, we are called to act responsibly, even in the face of uncertainty.
In Latin America, stories are told about slave women in Colombia, who hid seeds in their abundant hair to plant them later in what was to be their own land, thus ensuring food security for their people. Landless women in Brazil wrap indigenous seeds in very small packages and hide them in their hair. When they meet other women, they exchange seeds with great care, as if they were treasures.
Large-scale agricultural production and genetic engineering technology, imposed on peasant communities throughout the world, have serious implications. Genetically modified seeds do not produce fertile seeds. This means that modified seeds can produce one crop only and in this way the companies that manufacture them have absolute control over the production process. God, “who made everything suitable for its time” planted a perennial garden. This free gift that God gave us is now in the process of being destroyed. And it is for this reason, that the peasant women in Brazil carry their natural seeds as if they were diamonds; they are a most precious gift that has to be protected.
In 2017, Earth Overshoot Day (EOD) was on August 2. On that day, humanity’s resource consumption for the year had exceeded the earth’s capacity to regenerate the basic natural resources needed to sustain life. In other words, after only nine months, humanity has used more from nature than the earth can renew in an entire year. Our ecological account is in the red four months before the end of the year. Is this something that has to happen? Or, are we going to act as of today with responsibility and creativity to preserve life, which is a communal gift not an individual entitlement?
God of mountain peak and rolling veld,
Pour out your blessing on your creation
That your bounty may feed the nations,
And your Spirit of powerful grace
Becomes the dance of reconciliation
From which no one is exclude or forgotten.
Ana Villanueva is Executive Assistant to the General Secretary of The Lutheran World Federation.