One thing that’s always weird to people when they first learn about the liturgical calendar is that it seems off-balance. During the spring and summer, there’s barely anything at all, the faintly diminutive “Ordinary Time”. Then fall, bam, and you’re busy till Easter.

I have been told–apocrypha, you cry–that this reflects the essence of historicaal agricultural life. During the spring and summer, you are busy sowing and tending and breeding and milking1. Fall comes with its slaughter and goods to put away, and then… Less for our farmers to do in winter. Hunker down. Survive. This then is when community and ritual really have their power.

Industrial, post-industrial life crushes this. We keep lights in our chickens’ coops so that they will lay like summer in winter, and we are ourselves judged by our summers’ eggs2.

I don’t know if in the Hebrew it has this quality, but in the relevant3 Latin4 text of Ecclesiastes 3 there is a rhythmic monotony to an explanation of variance in life. Tempus occidendi, et tempus sanandi; tempus destruendi, et tempus ædificandi. Tempus flendi, et tempus ridendi; tempus plangendi, et tempus saltandi. Tempus singular-nominative-future-passive participle, tempus singular-nominative-future-passive participle. A time for this, a time for that. You get up, you go to work, you come home, you go to sleep, you die.

  1. See, this much cannot be apocryphal, because I remember baby goats’ season; the imminent leaves on the alders were acid green. 

  2. If there were a world where caffeine didn’t exist, and you explained its role in contemporary life to someone there, wouldn’t they be horrified? 

  3. Laid claim to by those who lay claim to me. 

  4. Canonical translations are something else, that’s for sure. Techies degrade the word “canonical” when they use it to mean something quotidian. Witness the Septuagint! Witness St. Jerome! The premodern death of the author paired with an immutable soul of a text…