There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
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,
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.
I walked through Bedford Square again last night. The last time I walked through was about a fortnight ago, but last night the street furniture had changed again. The Architectural Association have taken down Driftwood, the Summer Pavilion I first passed earlier this year. I’ve passed it so many times it had literally become part of the furniture. But now it’s gone. A sign that the summer, in spite of the mild temperatures, is over.
Later on, I came out of the tube station at Clapham South to discover three new trees planted outside the flats next to Tescos. Bendy birch saplings planted sometime since Sunday. Apparently autumn is the best time of year to plant a tree because the soil is warm from the summer sun and damp from the autumn rain. A young tree finds it easier to root well. Three trees signifying the onset of autumn.
And all my bio-rhythms are completely out of whack because the clocks have gone back and I’ve been staying up late. The slowly decreasing amounts of daylight make it harder and harder to get up and get active in the mornings. But I know this lethargy will only last until mid-December, when the days will start to lengthen again and the growing light will slowly bring us all round so we sit up straight and stretch out.
I read a lovely article about the Benedictine nuns of Stanbrook Abbey, members of the Conventus of Our Lady of Consolation, in the Guardian today, who have moved wholesale from their gothic convent in Worcester, miles and miles north to Wass in North Yorkshire to a completely eco-friendly new smaller convent. It was a long process for them, beginning in 1997. “If we had known then what we know now,” said the abbess, Dame Andrea Savage, “I think we would have pulled down the shutters and told the Holy Spirit we weren’t in.”
We don’t like change but change ultimately has been good, with the nuns agreeing that their new environment lends itself much more to contemplative prayer.
Sci-Fi writer Isaac Asimov said this: ‘The only constant is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be,’ echoing Greek philosophy and the thoughts of the writer of Ecclesiastes – ‘What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.’
Change happens, whether we like it or not, slowly and gradually, sometimes without us noticing, sometimes shaking up our lives. Summer pavilions get taken down, trees get planted, clocks go back and then forward and then back again. What goes around comes around.