“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.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-9 (NIV)
I have been thinking a great deal about Mr. Rogers lately as I have observed my neighborhood coming alive in new ways. When the middle of March arrived, most of us were talking and texting from behind closed doors, and the streets around me were largely empty. Then as soon as the weather became “tolerable,” out came the walkers, usually one by one and then slowly two by two, always carefully distanced unless they were from the same household. And as the temperatures continued to warm and schools closed down, the bicycle riders came out in full force. These are not the bent over serious athletic road warrior type of bikers on glittering machines, rather these are bikers with little baskets on the front, horns that go ding-a-ling and training wheels that might have just been removed. The bicycles are brightly colored: pink and purple or navy blue with racing stripes. Sometimes they have decals that look like superheroes or perhaps a favorite Disney character. These cyclists weave and they wobble, and almost all have an adult in tow, but everybody is wearing a face that is wreathed in smiles beneath their decorated helmets.
I marvel, for the first time, that this year it was not hard to get our local police to install electronic speed reminders because there are so many folks out on the street in our neighborhood at all times of day. Somedays when I drive my car, I feel like I am threading through a maze . . . a maze of walkers and bikers of all shapes, sizes and ages. It is complicated and delightful!
I have also seen street hockey and capture-the-flag games, swing sets in full use, forts-a-plenty being built, and lots of art on display everywhere. Yards are green, vegetables are growing at a prodigious rate and flowers are well tended and blooming their hearts out. While there are many empty parking lots in the office buildings I drive by every day, I can’t help but notice that sidewalks outside them are often filled with people who are walking or running.
I am also thankful that these days I do not have to tack on an extra 30-45 minutes of drive time each time I get in my car for the possibility of a traffic jam. By and large, the traffic in Nashville seems like it did 10 years ago.
I don’t spend money on clothes, but I have bought new flip flops and tennis shoes. The lipstick and make-up have gone out the window and are probably drying up by now. I am wearing my sun hat, buying more sunscreen than I ever have, and am getting callouses on my thumbs and an ache in my back from weeding. Because I water every day, the weeds still have the jump on me.
Without a doubt, my life is slower. My grandkids are reading more books and so am I. I have discovered I like the music of Frank Sinatra. My Bible is a long-standing companion whose wisdom has never been more relevant or timely. Life for all of us is paced differently. My calendar has stretches of empty days for the first time in many years.
If I look for the silver lining, without a doubt it is there. It is staring me in the face. A commodity that had become rare in my life, is now running over me like a waterfall in a parched land. Time. Time to stop. Time to listen. Time to learn. Time to love. Time to ponder. Time to count my blessings one by one, and then when the counting’s done…LOOK to see what God has done.
I am keeping my eyes peeled and I hope you are too.