Friday, March 15, 2013
Seasons of change
We are no longer seasonal people. No: baseball, basketball, football, and hockey don't count as changing seasons. Sure we're aware of when to pull out the winter boots versus the sandals, but even those seasons have blended with the convenience of heating and air conditioning. But we are not seasonally aware people. We get up at the same time each day and go to bed in the middle of the night regardless of when the sun is coming up and setting. We go through the same cycle day after day and do the same things week after month and year again. Get up. Get ready. Go to work. Get groceries. Come home. Eat. Work out. Watch tv. Go to bed. Repeat.
We do not eat as seasonal people. We eat "fresh" strawberries in the heart of winter and indulge in pumpkin pie in the spring. We even steal off of other lands' seasons, out of turn, with the year-round availability of mangoes, pineapples, pomegranates, and papaya, bananas, etc. (non of which taste very good as compared to when you actually eat them IN season in their country of origin. It ruins the fruit for ever in the northern hemisphere.) Hunting and gathering now involve who is the best at extreme couponing and stocking our pantries with 50 bottles of shampoo and 186 cans of well preserved Chef Boyardee in case of an impending zombie apocalypse.
We do not gauge our emotions in seasons, either. We have lost the sense of the flow of how we feel. A time to laugh. A time to cry. A time to sing. A time to dance. A time to scream. A time to mourn. A time to eat chocolate and have another glass of wine. Instead it's "happy face on".
We have completely lost the spiritual seasons. Seasons of feeling far from God, lost, out of touch, not sensing or feeling his presence. Seasons of being on a spiritual high, rekindled love, renewed dedication, deep spiritual encounters. Seasons of learning, growing, deepening faith. Seasons of feeling dry and brittle. Seasons of good friendships and community. Seasons of feeling alone and isolated. Seasons of fervently sharing faith with others and harvesting them for the Kingdom.
I myself have just come out of an extremely long winter in my life. Both spiritually and naturally. My entire 2-year time in Costa Rica was like an extended fall. The kind of fall where the temperature is perfect to wear whatever you want and be comfortable. The kind of fall where the harvest is coming in and you get fresh apple cider with the donuts you can only get straight from the orchard. The kind of fall where the days where it's light early in the morning, but the sun is starting to set at the perfect time for bon fires with friends. My favorite season. Coming home, regardless of what the calendar said, I was in the dead middle of winter. Isolated in the country feeling couped up and penned in with far too few stores to actually make it through. But like during any good blizzard, at least I was snowed in with my best friend, Jesus. I knew he was right there with me. Through my tears and sorrow. Through my grief of leaving the community that I love. Through the doubt of finding a job and the shock of my passport culture. He stood by me, whispering sweet nothings of a hope and a future. Winter is not the end. It is only a dormancy. A time of patience and waiting. A time of death so new life can sprout on a clean slate.
I am now officially in a season of spring. Naturally, spiritually, emotionally and in every other way. Not just because it's 80 degrees and sunny (sorry to rub it in, midwesterners and east coasters). It's as if something has shifted. I no longer feel the dormancy of the cave I've been living in for the last 6 months. Six months of winter. Oye. There's a newness of life. A refreshment in my soul. Of birds and butterflies and love in the air. I can feel it. That doesn't mean there won't be unexpected thunderstorms and random cold snaps at the beginning, but it means new growth and hope nonetheless.
What season are you in? Can you put a finger on it? A stretch of dry, rainless summer that feels oppressive to the bones? A time to dig in and get dirty in the field of your soul, preparing for another season yet to come? An interim between epochs? A turning of the tides in the attitude of your spirit? A respite from a long, harsh drought? This is what I am learning in my transition: when you are in a season, regardless of what it is or feels like, there will come a time when this, too, shall pass. No season lasts forever. Enjoy it while it lasts. Take advantage of it for what it is. You may never have a season like that again.