What's the Right Time?

There’s an opportune time to do things,
a right time for everything on the earth:
 A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
 
We'll it's almost a month on from my last blog post... and a number of people recently have asked why I have stopped posting so regularly? Frankly it has been a question of time... I haven't had enough of it to do all that I have needed to do... Particularly writing, as I have had a number of things I have been writing for others recently that have eaten up any free time I have had. But I've decided to make a concerted effort to blog more regularly again. 
I did however also want to leave things a little fallow after my last post to consider again why I blog at all... and what is the purpose of, as with the  last one, making those sort of public statements? I was challenged on that by a fellow cleric on facebook... and in our discussions the passage above was mentioned... Prompting the question what is the right time to shut up and the right time to speak up... As well as what is the right reason to speak up?
I'm not even going to try to answer that question... Actually I'm more comfortable raising questions than making statements or offering answers at the moment... but more of that in a future blog... But they are useful questions to ask of ourselves before we say/blog/tweet anything... Is this the right time to shut up or speak up? And am I doing so for the right reasons? Perhaps if certain church and political leaders had asked those questions before opening their cheepers over the past month things might have taken a slightly different turn...
But some of my reflections on shutting up and speaking up are not simply a function of recent events and my response to them, but also some of my recent reading... particularly Jean Pierre de Caussade's "Sacrament of the Present Moment" and Henri Nouwen's "The Way of the Heart." Both emphasise a more contemplative, if not mystical spirituality than comes naturally to me... Indeed a number of years ago one colleague went so far as to say that I was so much of an activist that my space for  spirituality was almost non-existent - like many protestant clergy... and he was probably right in that... I think I am better now, but it is a constant battle for me... As I reflected last week at conference on the upcoming ordination of 4 probationers and what my own ordination meant 18 years on, I remembered that I was ordained to the "ministry of word and sacrament" and that in the intervening years there have been an awful lot of words... but perhaps not enough times of silence between and informing those words...
Nouwen suggests:

"we have become so contaminated by our wordy world that we hold on to the deceptive opinion that our words are more important than our silence."

 
Today in Northern Ireland was a time for silence. The 7th annual Day of Reflection, when Healing Through Remembering encourages to take time to personally reflect on the conflict here... the pain of the past and hopes for the future... But I wonder how many people took time to stop... be quiet... remember and reflect...
Perhaps if we did then when we do speak and act it would be with more wisdom and grace...
 
Shalom

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