The Seasons

"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 kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time to build up; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace."

- The Bible (Authorised Version) Ecclesiastes ch.3 v1-8

In this very famous and beautiful passage from the Old Testament of the Bible, the writer examines the ways in which time provides a setting for human life and its activities.  It articulates the idea that certain times are appropriate for doing certain things.  Our modern lifestyle tends to blur the distinctions that occur naturally in time - the division of night and day, the different days of the week and the march of the seasons.  We have the capacity to render night as day through artificial light, to organise economic life so that it operates twenty-four hours a day and to control the internal environment of buildings so that seasonal changes in weather are of less consequence to us.  Nevertheless, changes in time do affect us and have stimulated writers, artists and musicians down the centuries.  We have now entered the season of Autumn with its striking changes in the quality of light, the temperature of the air, the behaviour of birds and animals and the shedding of the leaves of many plants.  For many people, Autumn brings much pleasure with its riot of natural colours as leaves decay.  Crops are harvested to sustain us through the winter and we celebrate the festival of harvest - even when, as in school, we are somewhat distanced from it as an activity of the countryside.  To what extent are we prisoners of time and increasingly subject to the pressures imposed by the ever more rapid routines of modern life?  Should we take more time to think about time and our relationship to it?