The View

To everything (turn, turn, turn) 

There is a season (turn, turn, turn) 

And a time to every purpose, under heaven 

A time to be born, a time to die 

A time to plant, a time to reap 

A time to kill, a time to heal 

A time to laugh, a time to weep 

To everything (turn, turn, turn) 

There is a season (turn, turn, turn) 

And a time to every purpose, under heaven

(Pete Seeger - "Turn, Turn, Turn")

King Solomon in all his infinite wisdom wrote down these words found in the book of Ecclesiastes nearly 3000 years ago. These are the same words the Byrds would turn into a catchy folk song a decade after Pete Seeger composed it using the Old Testament Bible verses as inspiration for a protest song. My point to all this musical trivia is 3000 years prior, Solomon managed to capture what most of us seem to intuitively know, even if only on a subconscious level and regardless of our knowledge of scripture or folk songs. There is a season for everything. And at some point, we will all find ourselves in one of these seasons whether we like it or not, regardless of how it came to pass. Whether we are in this season as a result of things we have done or things done to us, the season will arrive. There is a time for everything and we rarely are the one controlling the clock. 

I’ve been in a season of change. I’ve had endless conversations with my creator over the last couple years. Why this? Why now? Where are we going? Why am I here? What do you want from me? What should I do? How do I do it? One particular Sunday morning recently I found myself asking these questions, praying and wishing for a “sign.” My “sign” came in the form of a morning spent reading from the book of Ecclesiastes about the seasons of life. It’s clear the author is examining his past failures when you read the passage in context of the whole chapter and book. It’s actually a pretty depressing read in the beginning. The author surmises life here on Earth can be one big let down. He concludes all the money, power, prestige and accomplishments will not and cannot bring you lasting happiness because we will experience good seasons and bad seasons. And the same fate awaits us all. Everyone of us. Solomon was the richest and most powerful man on the planet at the time he wrote these words. A time to laugh, a time to weep. A time to mourn and a time to dance. The good and the bad, the ups and the downs. We all got em’. 

Solomon goes on to conclude that in these seasons, the one constant is the love of his creator and through each season, it never fades. That love is always there and those season are part of the gift we call life. Even the bad seasons can have purpose if nothing more than to bring us closer to our creator. And if we focus on that one constant, that love, the walk to the end will have meaning and purpose and we will one day rest in true peace. Hopefully we will learn more about ourselves along the way and make life a little better for the world we leave behind. So, despite reading this book and chapter numerous times over the last decade, on this particular Sunday it resonated. I found some comfort and a little meaning to all my previous questions of why, what, where, how, when… 

With these words and admittedly the melody from the hit song in my head, I closed my eyes and simply told God I didn’t want to ask any more questions today. I simply wanted to hear what He had to say. I guess you could say I gave God an open mic (as if He needed one), but you get the point. I was open to hearing whatever He wanted to tell me and free myself of needing answers to any particular questions I had. And that’s when it got interesting… 

I’ve learned over time that “prayer” time or meditation for me is often a task of motion. Sure, I can sit and close my eyes and reflect, and I often do, but it seems for me I am most open to what the Universe will bring me when I am in motion. I am learning to just free my mind of the distractions, questions, and expectations and just “be.” I usually go for a walk and I’m getting better at just taking in what’s around me. I’m learning to push aside the invasive, distracting thoughts when they come. I know they’ll be there later. Instead, I watch the birds, feel the wind, listen to my breathing, admire the kids playing, etc. I try to just absorb my environment. And it’s in these moments I hear that small voice I don’t recognize as my own. Not always audible, but that little prompt from somewhere within that says, pay attention. This was my frame of mind on this particular Sunday as I walked along the harbor on a rather overcast and warm,  but windy day. 

It was much like that feeling you get when you’re walking along and a friend comes up behind you and taps you on the shoulder. You know there is a familiarity in the touch even if you can’t see where it came from. It was just that feeling when I looked up to see this sight before me: 

Port Washington has a lighthouse at the end of the Jetty. Fortunately the city has left the jetty open and it has become a nice little walk to just take in the sights or enjoy the tranquility of Lake Michigan. To the casual observer, this is simply an old lighthouse at the end of the Jetty. And it is, but for me there was so much more in front of me that day. What I saw was an illustration of God’s blueprint for humanity. 

The point of view of the photo I took is me looking forward from the end of a wall that separates two walkways to the lighthouse. The wall is akin to a Jersey barrier, so about every 50 feet or so, you can cross from one side of the jetty to the other. As I looked down the centerline of these two pathways, it struck me that on the left, Lake Michigan was raging. Water was blowing up against the rocks and raining water down on the pathway. On my right however, the water was calm. The jetty was functioning as intended and protecting the harbor from the fury of the storm. Such is life. Sometimes you are going to cross that threshold and find yourself being battered by the storm. Other times, it will be peaceful and serene and you will likely be oblivious to the storm raging just behind you. Seasons. A time to embrace and a time to mend, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to tear and a time to mend. It was all right there for me, a perfect metaphor for the walk we are all taking called “life.” 

The beauty of this metaphor for me was twofold. First, even if I was unlucky to find myself on the lake side being battered by the waves, I could always find a way back to the other side. Sure, I’d have to keep walking and enduring the storm, but in a few feet, I’d be able to cross back to the safety of the harbor side free of the battering waves. This seemed the perfect metaphor for the seasons we find ourself in. Seasons do come to an end. The other striking point of the view I had was what lies at the end. Quite literally a light. And as long as I kept my focus on that “light” and moved forward, I would get to my destination. The safety and security of the very thing designed to protect travelers on their journey. I felt God in that moment telling me, that I would continue to go through several seasons. It’s all part of the process. Some of them I will voluntarily enter into, others will find me there without any real idea how or why I am in a particular season. Regardless, I will be on the side of the road where the storm rages. And it’s there I have some choices to make. 

I can just stop, enduring the battering waves until I make a conscious decision I’ve had enough. I can retrace my steps and go back. Metaphorically speaking, this requires me to take my eyes off the light and I risk the danger of getting lost trying to find my way back in the dark. Or, I can move forward. I can train my eyes on that light with confidence that despite the harsh reality of the battering waves, I know there is a break coming and I can choose to cross back over to the safety of the harbor side. In a perfect world, each crossing back to the calm harbor side will carry with it a lesson learned on how not to find yourself back on the side of the storm. In reality, I will likely find myself back on the side of the storm eventually. If I’m lucky, it’s not for the same reason, but there is a season for everything and to quote Solomon, “…a season for every activity under heaven.” So yeah, I expect to be on that side of the wall from time to time until I reach the end. But I will always remember the lesson I received on a gloomy Sunday looking out at Lake Michigan. I will keep my eye trained on the light and I will keep moving forward until I have a clear path to the other side. And I will be grateful for the time spent on both sides of the road. Adversity teaches us lessons in patience, understanding, reflection and compassion for others caught on the wrong side of the “wall.” It also makes us grateful for the time spent in the calm harbor. 

What does any of this have to do with music? I’m not sure. In this most recent season, I have found myself distanced from the music that has brought me so much joy in the past. I miss it and I’m searching for safe harbors and to allow myself to explore the world around me through the gift of music. I have a feeling when I’m safely back on the harbor again, I’ll have a lot to write about! Until then, I’m walking toward the light, looking for the break in the wall and counting the many blessings I have, not the least of which is a lighthouse to guide my way. 

When you set sail on your journey 

And happiness is far away 

Love will guide you 'til the morning 

Lead your heart down to the bay 

Don't resist the rain and storm 

I'll never leave you lost at sea 

I will be your lighthouse keeper 

Bring you safely home to me 

I will be your lighthouse keeper 

Bring you safely home to me 

(Sam Smith “Lighthouse Keeper”)