For Everything a Season

I wrote this on August 25, one month ago. Deacon was fully his Jack Russell self for as long as he lived. We said farewell to him today. He was just too tired to go on. He was well-loved and will be missed. Later today, when darkness comes and the moon is high above the trees, I will go out to say good-bye to the night. I have no doubt Deacon’s spirit will go with me. Some things must not change…

The Deac

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. . .God has made everything suitable for its time. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live.

—from Ecclesiastes

August. A transitional month. At least for me. On Monday, August 25, 44 new ministry students had their first classes at our school. They range in ages from young to middle to older adults and come from many different places. They heard God calling them and decided to embody a new life rhythm.

August is also the time when people post on Facebook photos of their children’s first days of school. Some of them look so young. “First day of kindergarten,” one friend put as the caption on a photo of her little girl. The girl was smiling–but looked nervous too. The shiny new book bag on her back was so big and made her look so small. I think her mama might have been crying…

August. A month of transitions. I felt a chill in the air for the first time on August 27 at the last home baseball game of the season. I even had to wear a jacket. Gardens are producing fewer vegetables. Squirrels will soon begin to gather winter stores of food.

Transitions. How do you do with transitions? How do any of us do with transitions? My dog Deacon defies them. With vigor. At my house, Deacon makes sure that no one strays from the set schedule. We get up on time. We go outside on time. We eat and drink and go out again on time. Yes, Deacon resists changes in life’s rhythms. He is firm about it. Determined. Let daylight savings time end. Not his problem. His clock does not change. We get up at the same time, not an hour later to save or not to save daylight time. What is amazing about Deacon is that his determination to defy change has meant that he also defies getting older. He is determined to be Deacon, to be the best Jack Russell Terrier self he can be come what may, even after his 14 years of life. That means that for the 5,110 mornings or so that he has lived, he has arisen with enthusiasm for heading out into God’s good creation to greet the day and headed out another 5,110 times or so to say good-bye to the night at bedtime. And he has insisted that I join him in this endeavor.

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Ancient wisdom writings speak about this. The Hebrew name of the writer of book of Ecclesiastes was Qoheleth. The word means “preacher.” Qoholeth was not a cheery preacher. At least 35 times in Ecclesiastes, he says that life is vanity. This preacher is a realist; he doesn’t look at life through rose-colored glasses. Qoheleth had what has been called a wintry spirituality. But in the verses above, he speaks hopeful wisdom. Life has many rhythms. Many transitions. Some that we long for. Others that we dread. Some that are joyful. Others that are painful. In all of life, Qoheleth says–all of the transitions and rhythms we encounter and embody–God is God. That is what we can count on. God continues to be God, come what may.

Qoheleth’s sermon is a good one for me. I can’t control much of what happens in life. None of us can. But we can live each day with as much joy and gratitude as we can muster. We can spend however many thousands of mornings we have to greet the day and however many thousands of evenings we have to say good-bye to the night, praising a God who continues to be God through each and every moment.

August 2014 is gone now. September is here. September 2, to be exact. Deacon and I have 27 more mornings to greet and nights that await farewells. To everything, there is a season…

And here Deacon is, ready to head out into yet another night…

The Deacon Dog 3

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