Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what 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 throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, 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 for war, and a time for peace.

Tuesdays are generally are fairly predictable day for me. I get to work around 8:30 and settle into emails and texts. I look at the calendar and list out the things I will need to be working on, take note of meetings. Around 9 the staff comes in and I will get a cup of coffee and we have a casual check in with each other. Around 10 I have a standing appointment with a friend and mentor, followed by more office work and often lunch with another member. On the day rolls and I am carried in its current through evening meetings and on home. So it was odd to have my routine interrupted today.

Yesterday my son Keelan flew back from school. His school has suspended all activities and moved to 100% online classes for the remainder of the year. It is also Spring Break and his plans to go to the South Carolina shore were scraped. It wasn’t until he got here that it slowly dawned on us that we could not simply go on with things as usual, but actually needed to follow the DCD’s directive to self-quarantine, all of us.

To be completely frank, I don’t know how I feel about that and I certainly don’t know all the implications. But after going by my office to gather the few essentials I need, I pulled into the parking lot at my local grocery to pick up some tortilla. And it hit me, “I can’t do that.” Better said, “I won’t do that.” I choose to not risk doing harm to others for a few tortillas.

Years ago my father’s Alzheimer’s robbed him of his vocabulary until at the end he only had one word and that word was “routine”. It is kind of odd that. Of all words to be left with – “routine”. I suppose that may be why I have been thinking about dad’s last word today. I have grown accustomed to my routines and I am discombobulating to suddenly be without them. Yet here we are and what are we to do?

While dad was sick I came across a postcard from Dos Equis that said “Routine: The Enemy”. I hung on mom’s fridge where it stayed for years. I put it there as a bit of dark humor but I think that card offered some sound advice. Routines aren’t always the best thing and we can be well served to break from them now and again.

The writer of Ecclesiastes put it another way, “For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.” I can live with that. Even more I can step into that. We are in a new season. Things are not the same, except that God is with us. So I will settle into this quarantine and see what it brings. I am certain it won’t be routine.

Grace and peace, Tom