Pete Seeger channeled the rhythm of life from the words in Ecclesiastes into the classic song “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything there is a Season):”
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 laugh, a time to weep …
A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn …
Recently, I purchased two matching wreaths for our double front doors. Days later, our son Adam asked, “Did you know that a bird built a nest in one of the wreaths?” I rushed out the door and sure enough, there was a nest containing two eggs.
This mother bird built her nest in the most precarious of places. She flew away each time we opened the front door, so we used the back door as much as possible. Joyously, two baby birds arrived. Two weeks later our daughter Ashleigh stopped by and I walked her out and pointed to the nest in the wreath. She leaned in and said, “Mom there’s nothing in there.” Adam had followed us out and when he looked over, he shouted, “Get away! There’s a snake!” The three of us scattered down the steps and looked back. Sure enough, lying across the top of the wreath, was a very long, black snake.
Adam surmised the snake must have crawled up and eaten the babies. Ashleigh took off and Adam and I went around the house to the back door. For the next few days, I wondered how a simple nest in a decorative wreath became a meal for a snake.
We had watched the nest. We had watched the eggs. We had watched the fledglings. Now we are left with an empty nest.
Turn, turn, turn.
Laddie III, is our Katrina rescue dog from New Orleans. We had been looking to replace our last collie when my husband, Steven, retired. I knew Steven needed company and companionship as he made this transition. It was a gift from God that we were able to make the connection. While the rest of us were at work or school, they bonded.
Laddie’s seizures started when he turned 4, but medicine controlled them. Now, at age 15, Laddie’s back legs are shaky as he struggles to get up from the tile floor.
Late Wednesday night before Steven returned from a trip, Laddie started shaking, and I panicked. Did I forget his second pill? I gave him another one. A half hour later, I added a third. Why didn’t the shaking stop? Finally, one and a half hours later, Laddie went to sleep.
The next few days I was diligent in giving Laddie his morning and evening pills. So far, so good. Sunday morning, 6:30 a.m., Laddie and Lassie nudged me awake. Time for breakfast and pills. Laddie takes 3 pills each morning after breakfast. I headed back to bed. Laddie pushed his head on my arm at 8:30 a.m. I rolled out of bed and headed for the kitchen. I looked back and noticed Laddie hadn’t followed. His head was shaking. No, this couldn’t be happening again. I had given him his pill two hours ago. I held him and prayed. I gave him another pill (Yes, I know it was way too soon.) He would shake, pant, rest, repeat. Between my tears, I kept selfishly thinking, Don’t you dare die before Steven gets home! Everything seemed to be happening out of my control. Finally, finally, Laddie went to sleep. The rest of that day, we took turns sitting on the floor next to Laddie, watching over him. We still had two days before Steven came home. When Steven walked through the door Tuesday afternoon, it was as if time stood still as he knelt down to hug Laddie.
We take turns daily helping Laddie when he struggles to rise. Once he’s moving though, it’s as if Laddie is ready to take on the world. Steven watches and looks at me. “We’ll know when its’ time.” (But not yet.)
I remember the words my sister Andrea shared with me several years ago as I was struggling through a major crisis. I fought her suggestion until finally, I gave up, gave in and surrendered. I was surprised at how much peace I received. It is time again.
Let go, and Let God.
Turn, turn, turn.
Anita Anton has a doctorate in educational studies from St. Louis University and lives in south St. Louis County, where she is a member of Mary, Mother of the Church parish. She is a regular Faith Perspectives contributor on STLtoday.com/religion.