There Is A Purpose

For our summer outdoor liturgies we are using the text from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 for the Prayers of the People. Every time we begin, it takes me back to my college dorm room and the sound of 3 of us playing our guitars and singing the popular folk song; Turn! Turn! Turn! (to everything there is a season). It was written in 1959 by Pete Seeger but not recorded by him until 1962. The version I remember most was recorded by The Byrds' in 1965. The entire text is taken from Ecclesiastes with only a few words added by Seeger. The words Turn Turn Turn and the last line after ...a time for peace when Seeger adds "I swear it's not too late." The lines of the song are open to numerous interpretations, but Seeger's added line at the end usually identifies the song as a plea for world peace. As the verse goes "....to everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven." When I was in college, it was my time for gathering with friends on a regular basis to play the guitar and sing the familiar folk songs that everyone knew and could sing along: Michael Row the Boat Ashore, This Land is Your Land, Where Have All the Flowers Gone, If I Had A Hammer, We'll Sing in the Sunshine, Blowin' in the Wind, Puff the Magic Dragon, and the often satirized Kumbaya. The repertoire goes on, but these were the staples. I still pull out the guitar occasionally and sing Puff the Magic Dragon for the ATB and B students.....it makes Anne Feeney cry every time. I don't think it's a reflection on my rendition - but rather the part about "a dragon lives forever; not so little boys."

The use of this text for the prayers of the people invites us in a very meaningful way to reflect on the various components of our lives and assess what the purpose may be. In finding out about some of the particulars of the song To everything there is a season, it mentions that it is used in the score for Forrest Gump. There is a great scene in the movie when Forrest asks his mama what his destiny is and she replies "You're gonna have to figure that out for yourself". And while we do need to be accountable for our actions and for our destiny, figure it out for ourselves, I firmly believe that God does not intend for us to do this all on our own. We are born into families, communities, societies, the world, to work together to accomplish whatever purpose - whatever destiny is uniquely ours. In this community of Holy Comforter, we come together to celebrate a time to be born when we share the Sacrament of Baptism, we reverently acknowledge the time to die as we've said goodbye to cherished members of our parish. In our daily lives we have times to weep and times to laugh, times to seek and times to lose, times to keep silence and times to speak. Whatever your purpose..... your destiny, it will be enriched by this loving community of faith. I know mine has.

Mary Johnson