I can’t read the text in Ecclesiastes without humming the Byrds song “turn, turn turn” melody, which probably gives my age away or tells you that my parents gave me a well-rounded education in music (I won’t tell you which!).
For those unfamiliar with the Bible (or the Byrds’ song!) the text (taken straight from the Bible, rearranged slightly for the song) goes like this:
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
In Queensland where I live, we really only have two seasons, summer and winter, although “spring” is marked by the jacarandas coming into flower – so sometimes we call the 2 weeks of transition we get here “spring” – but really, we kid ourselves.
Now, it is no secret that I love summer! I love eating summery fruits (mangoes, stone fruit and berries) and eating fresh seafood – yum! I love going to the beach and diving under crystal clear waves on a hot summer’s day. I love feeling the sun on my skin. I love sitting outside on balmy nights without feeling cold! I truly can’t think of much at all that there is not to like about summer (particularly if I can – and do – escape into an airconditioned space to recover and sleep!).
I am not a big fan of feeling cold! I hate how it makes my whole body tense up and shiver. I am one of those people who just can’t get warm enough! I am forever pulling blankets around me and grabbing warm coats the minute I step outside – and that is in Queensland where the southern tourists come to swim at our beaches in winter (the crazies!).
I really miss autumn. I grew up in Canberra where we got all four seasons. My birthday is in May, so I always anticipated Autumn’s spectacular arrival with it’s golden, orange and red hues. I had so many fond memories of walking to school down the street where we lived which was lined with 100year old elms that formed an amber, cathedral like canopy. The crunch of the dry leaves beneath my feet and the swirl of yellow confetti when the breeze picked up. I loved “helping” my parents rake up the leaves that carpeted our front yard and then jumping into the pile fully covered smelling the musty perfume of them.
I have shared conversations with friends recently who are going through difficult seasons. I have been there myself on more than one or two occasions. I think we all have.
What is comforting to me is the knowledge that seasons are a part of life. They are meant to be. We are not meant to have it all and be happy all of the time.
We won’t be able to “escape” times of loss or times of sadness – nor in my view should we try to. If we can learn to embrace a season, even the parts that make us uncomfortable or sad, we will find it easier to move through (until the next time that season comes around).
As difficult as the season may be, it has a purpose. We may not understand why something happens in life, but we can always try to look for how we can make good out of bad and grow despite our circumstances.
As someone, who is no green thumb, I took great comfort in reading a gardening tip recently that assured me that I should not worry too much if after uprooting and re-planting a seedling I observed the poor plant wilt. I was encouraged to fertilise the poor little specimen and keep the water up to it because soon the roots would spread and grow and the plant would bounce back, stronger.
In the same way, sometimes when our life seems to have been uprooted and we have found ourselves “re-planted” we wilt a little. In these times we might need a bit more encouragement, we might be thirsty, we might need time to talk, to de-brief or to work through feelings of anger, disappointment or despair. And that is ok. In these times we need to take care of ourselves, to eat properly, to get enough rest, to take time out for ourselves to pause and reflect, to meditate and to pray, to get some fresh air and turn our face to the sun. After a while our roots will grow, so that when the next season comes we are better placed to weather it.
How have you weathered uncomfortable seasons in your life?