(A conversation submitted by Sabina W. Sager)
A man doesn’t have time in his life
to have time for everything.
He doesn’t have seasons enough to have
a season for every purpose. Ecclesiastesas wrong about that.
A man needs to love and to hate at the same moment,
to laugh and cry with the same eyes,
with the same hands to throw stones and to gather them,
to make love in war and war in love.
And to hate and forgive and remember and forget,
to arrange and confuse, to eat and to digest
takes years and years to do.
A man doesn’t have time.
When he loses he seeks, when he finds
he forgets, when he forgets he loves, when he loves
he begins to forget.
And his soul is seasoned, his soul
is very professional.
Only his body remains forever
an amateur. It tries and it misses,
gets muddled, doesn’t learn a thing,
drunk and blind in its pleasures
and its pains.
He will die as figs die in autumn,
Shriveled and full of himself and sweet,
the leaves growing dry on the ground,
the bare branches pointing to the place
where there’s time for everything.
The poet, Yehuda Amichai, suggests that we do not have time in our lives to have time for everything. He says further that Ecclesiastes was wrong in saying that what has been will be again, and what has been done will be done again.
I stand with Amichai.
Today, August 12, is the 49th anniversary of the day Steve and I were married. My world is now very different–everything has changed for me. My whole being is confused and muddled. This year we will not have an anniversary celebration or a special dinner over which we might share our memories or assess how we have grown over the past year. What has been will not be done again. The memories will need to suffice. I will love and hate at the same time. I will cherish the loving relationship that exists in photo albums, letters, and saved treasures. And I will hate the disease that wracked Steve’s body for more than two years, leaving him with uncompleted plans and leaving me with a lonely day to ponder.
We will not be able to engage today in the joy of Tu b’Av, the fifteenth day of Av, a holiday mentioned in the Talmud as a time of joy and dancing under the full moon and celebrating the season of love. As Amichai reminds us, there is a season to laugh and cry with the same eyes. My eyes try to see backward and forward through my tears.
We will not be celebrating today the significance of the number 49, or seven times seven years together. We will not share the beauty of what seven represents in our world as Judaism’s most perfect and sacred number. Seven is the number of magical days of creation. Seven species adorn our lives. Seven are the wonders of the world that remind us of the places we have travelled in our journey together. Seven are the days of the chatan and kallah, the groom and bride, and how many times they circle one another under the chuppah. And seven times seven is the Jubilee year, the 49th year, a time to put aside the work of our hands in order to rejoice in the world around us. I will wring my hands and close my eyes to imagine what might have been.
Perhaps Ecclesiastes got it right after all. Perhaps this is exactly the day to tear and then find a way to mend. Perhaps this is just the time to be silent, and then find a way to speak of blessings. Perhaps this is the day to look for the branches pointing to the place where there’s time for everything. And perhaps that time is now and the place is my heart, where there is time for remembering love.
Remember the time
Together in the season
Awash in blessings.