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There Is a Season by Joan Chittister
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There Is a Season (edition 1995)

by Joan Chittister

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432267,810 (4.25)12
Member:tututhefirst
Title:There Is a Season
Authors:Joan Chittister
Info:Orbis Books (1995), Hardcover, 118 pages
Collections:Religion, Favorites, Art books (inactive)
Rating:*****
Tags:999 challenge, religion, biblical studies, art

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There Is a Season by Joan Chittister

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The Book of Ecclesiastes "invites us to see life as a mosaic made up of small pieces of human experience common to us all" and there in lies the beauty of this book. We as the reader are taken through the compartments of time - birth, death, loss, gain, love, hate, war, peace, sowing, reaping, and all that heaven holds for us. But do we ever really look at how we treat Time?
Time in our society is very often treated the same as money - being saved and counted, we even "invest" and spend our time.

But this book reminds that we must look deeper into what we see. For instance, the signs of the zodiac are all compared to a fragment of ourselves - Ram for Aries is a reminder that just as with Abraham finding a ram to sacrifice in place of Isaac we must make sacrifices, Taurus the bull shows us we must set aside the "golden calfs" that we worship, Gemini the twins identifies a manner of seeing the personal inner self as well as the personal relationships that we are a part of. Each of the zodiacal signs can find a non-pagan equivalent.
"Before we face the world, we must first face ourselves"
But are we capable of looking that deep or are we afraid? Fear governs are reactions whether we see it or not. We fear a loss of status so we say nothing, we fear a loss of comfort, so we mindlessly turn away from effort that might risk greater accomplishments.
we fear criticism but we must reach inside our selves and give birth to a courage that we alone can muster.
Loss teaches us that we need to learn the lesson of how to begin again, learning how to be wrong, teach our children to learn not shame and guilt and anger from losing but pride and goodness and resolve to try again.
We also need to find the true lesson of love because "anything that degrades or demeans or destroys a person in any way is not love, no matter how loudly proclaimed."
"Love is about regal respect, royal reverence and total support. It needs to be taught rather than made the victim of a hormonal roulette." How has our socieety today changed the definition of love? "Love resides in the santification of friendship" and yet how many marriages are based on friendship, how many can say my spouse is my best friend? The word 'friend' in our society has become so warped by social networks and texting do we really have BFFs?

The book continues on, reaching out and grabbing your soul because the words, that are almost poetry, explain what your thought processes and feelings are unable to express. When I started I thought this would be a book for those of the Christian faith, but the farther I went the more I realized that everyone would benefit from these words.

And so all purposes under heaven tells us that "in life we become that which we could not have been without our own particular recipe of cleansing pain and perfect joy in proper proportions."

All I can say is WOW!

Thanks Tina for recommending this book. I'm keeping my copy too. ( )
3 vote cyderry | Feb 28, 2013 |
Wow!

That's what I said when I first picked up this book. Wow! is what I said after almost every chapter, and Wow! is what I'm still saying as I try to bring my senses back to earth after wallowing in this book for almost a week. This work, a meditation on the famous words of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, "To everything there is a season..." is also a series of reflections on the art of John August Swanson's incredibly sumptuous serigraph Ecclesiastes which provides the cover art and illustrations for each chapter.

Chittister begins with reflections on the Seasons of Life and the Dimensions of Time and studies each element of the zodiac in the center of the picture and on the cover off the book. I seldom quote from books when I do reviews, but Joan Chittister had me gasping with some of her insights:

Speaking of the scriptural verses she says: "...I saw...Swanson's painting...and suddenly, in the struggle to understand the print, everything came together. The words took on a timbre I had not heard before; the ideas sprang to meaning in a new way, a new form.The painting with all its complexity made it very clear....Life is the citadel of time in which we find ourselves and which we ourselves build...." pg. 1.

She goes on to examine each element of the picture matched to its appropriate "a time to...."
One of my favorites is "A Time for Peace". The picture shows a young person standing in front of lambs lying down with a huge lion, with figures above sharing a meal of bread and probably wine, stars, sunbursts, a figure of what is obviously a dove meant to portray the Holy spirit, peacocks, birds, all in drenching colors. Chittister begins by quoting Kazantzakis "I fear nothing. I hope for nothing. I am free." then she posits that "...we are too enslaved to ourselves to be at peace."(pg. 107).
She talks about how noisy the world is today, blocking out our ability to be quiet, to listen, to THINK.

She says "..Quiet has become a phantom memory in this culture. Some generations among us have had no experience of it at all....In New York City, in Small Town USA, (noice pollution) is blaring every hour of the day....Muzak in elevators, ...people standing next to you on cellphones, ...the ubiquitous television spewing talk devoid of thought... we don't think anymore. We simply listen."

She discusses how we are afraid of silence, how different societies in the past dealt with thinking and silence. She quotes the desert monastics, and ends this section by saying that "Peace will come when we stretch our minds to listen to the noise within us that needs quieting and the wisdom from outside...that needs to be learned." (pg.109).

Each section is just as deep and thought provoking. Each provides enough food for the soul to last an entire season of seasons. The final chapter, "A Time for Every Purpose under Heaven" shows dancers, musicians, a panoply of colors and banners and joy. She uses this to recap everything and ties it together:

"No doubt about it, the cycle of time shapes and reshapes our misshapen selves until we have the opportunity to become what we can."

"There is a time to kill whatever it is within us that fetters our souls from flying free...
There is a time...
...to sow the seeds that will be reaped by the next generation...
...to weep tears of pain and ...loss to dignify the going of those...people in life who have brought us to where we are...
...to embrace the goods of our life with great, thumping hugs....
...to reap, to work without stint...so that what must be done in life can be done...
...to love...to find ourselves in someone else so that we can find ourselves at all.
...to lose...to let go of whatever has become our captor...
...to be born fresh and full...to begin again...
...to laugh, to let go of the propriety and ...pomposities
...to die, to put things to an end...
...to heal ourselves from the hurts that weigh us down...
...to build up, to construct the new world.... (pp.113-118)

This book is not readily available in libraries or used book stores. I don't think too many people will want to part with it. I gave my original copy to my son and his wife for a first anniversary present (paper gifts!!), and had to get another one online. It's that good. It's every adjective you can think of and then some. The words are almost poetry. The artwork is breathtaking.

All I can say is Wow! ( )
1 vote tututhefirst | Apr 18, 2009 |
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