Obviously, we are now in the throes of winter even though it’s a warm January at the moment. Winter is my least favorite season even though it sometimes provides great beauty to the eye. I dislike its unpredictability, and as I’ve aged, I just don’t like being cold! But dressing in soft layers helps and becomes the fashion mode of the season. I do try to make the best of it, though, as my dogs must be walked. And I tell myself that no complaining is allowed. Besides, the hope of spring is just ahead.
It was the fall of 1991 when my husband retired from twenty-four years in the US Army. For several months we had discussed where we wanted to settle down, where we wanted the moving truck to deliver our household goods for the last time. After much deliberation we decided to come “home” to Nampa. Having family here was the main draw, but one of the other main reasons was that Idaho is a lovely place to experience the four seasons of the year. We arrived here in late summer, bought my childhood home (after resettling my parents into a retirement community) and prepared for a new season of our life.
It seems to me that nature’s seasons are such a lovely metaphor for our human existence and all the changes we experience. To me it looks a little like this with each season being 20-25 years in length, if we are so fortunate:
SPRING is the season of our birth, of course, when we burst out into the world. If fortunate, we understand we are loved and cared for. We bring joy. We are curious and eager to learn, guided by “our village.” Our bodies are young, strong and overflowing with energy. Our thirst for knowledge is so great and our idealism blooms in full color. We grow up and our desire to finally become an adult is almost overwhelming. (If only we had known…)
In the SUMMER season of our lives, we are busy pursuing, investing time, energy and money into our vocations. Perhaps we choose a life partner and create our own family. If so, we tend wholeheartedly to their needs. If single, we invest in ourselves and others. We trust that we are doing our best to provide proper nourishment, education, and spiritual guidance to those from whom we care. We seek “success” (whatever that means to us personally) and we appreciate acknowledgement. We’re constantly weighing decisions and consequences. It’s an exhausting season.
In our AUTUMN season we continue to reap the harvest of our labors, believing that in spite of some “bad weather or pestilence” there was sufficient harvesting of our resources. Our family responsibilities have hopefully lessened, and maybe grandkids have brought new joy. We submit to the things we have no control over: our aging bodies, especially. And, if needed, we make amends and repair relationships. We make a bucket list. Then, hopefully, we rest, recreate, perhaps travel, and enjoy some freedom from labor and heavy responsibilities.
Then, in the blink of an eye…
we are in the WINTER season of our lives. The soft snow of memories falls over us and melts into time. We learn that as we rest, we can still make
a difference by sharing our stories of steadfast faith in the One who has been our guide throughout all our seasons. Our spiritual roots can be examples of faith, hope and love to those younger, living in their different seasons. We do struggle to grasp that our future is now, the present; and our hope is being in God’s presence after we die. We can’t fully understand “heaven.” But we trust the promise that God has prepared a place for those who love him. (I Corinthians 2:9)
Now that I am nearing the winter of my life, I am so grateful to have experienced these prior seasons, though they have passed so quickly. Many have not been so privileged. “What is your life? You are a mist the appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14) It’s true. So make your seasons matter.
This most familiar, poetic Scripture passage about our seasons, says it all:
(New Living Translation)
For everything there is a season,
A time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.
Gracious God of all our seasons,
Thank you for the beauty of nature, in all the seasons we enjoy. We never tire of the majesty each one exhibits. We thank you for the seasons of our lives. Just the privilege of living and breathing on this incredible planet is a gift from you. May we never take any of it for granted, all our days.
In your life-giving name,