“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
November is a month of Birthday Bonanza! for the Mathises. All told, three of us will celebrate our birthdays within the span of a couple of weeks.
It’s a sweet, though hectic, few weeks as we scurry for party dates, gifts, and family visits. Oh, and then there’s this gathering at the end of the month that demands travel, cooking and feasting—perhaps you’ve heard about it? Although November unfolds at a frantic pace, it also proves to be a time to reflect and to consider the changing landscape of our lives. The timing of our Birthday Bonanza! is fitting as one season fades into another.
This year’s transition from summer to fall, and from fall to winter has felt schizophrenic. It’s as though summer overstayed its welcome, and autumn could hardly get in the front door. And once autumn did arrive, it had just hung up its jacket when winter arrived on the scene shoving it out the door.
The fall foliage has been the victim of our seasonal tug of war. Many leaves fast-forwarded their explosive yellows and reds and simply turned brown. Other trees dropped their green leaves as though they were surrendering to a summer tripped up on steroids. Yes, there was color in our mountains. But it was spotty and short-lived.
So, by my count, autumn lasted about three weeks. Hope you like winter!
But few of us do.
While winter brings beauty of its own, it is also marked by long stretches of grey, drizzly, oatmeal colored skies. Oh, and then there’s the cold.
The author of Ecclesiastes knows that the seasons can be a helpful a way to understand and to think about our lives. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” In addition to the multitude of seasons that we face in our lives, we can also see how our lives fall into the broader seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter.
In which season do you find yourself?
Those of us in springtime are enthralled with the newness of life—of growth and of promise. It’s important to note that springtime is not all sunshine and daffodils. Spring, like this season in our lives, can be marked by violent change and tumultuous events. In addition to the lovely warmth, springtime is the season of dramatic and ferocious thunderstorms.
Summer is a time of putting down roots, of settling, and of tending to the fruits of our labors. It can be a delightfully rich season in our lives. But it can also be demanding and hard. The days are longer, the sun is higher and hotter; our work can exhaust us.
Autumn can be a golden stretch in our lives. The change of wind brings any number of changes; most of which are bountiful and good. We have a renewed energy. The absence of summertime haze means that visibility improves. And the world is transformed by color each autumn—even if for a few weeks.
But we know that autumn inevitably fades, and that the wind will scurry the leaves from the trees. The ground will alternate between soggy and frosty. Illnesses, aches and pains reveal new fault lines in our frames and in our bones. Yes, snow will deck the trees and branches and we will gasp in astonishment at what God is able to accomplish even when everything seems dormant. But we know that’s fleeting. Winter means loss. Winter means hardship. Winter means death.
Not all of us will experience each season in succession. Some of our lives will tragically be cut short. But many of us will be blessed to travel through each stretch of the path.
Each season has its beauty, its trials and its terrors. We cannot change that. Frequently we stand in two seasons, if not three or even four. Like the summers of England, you can sometimes experience all four seasons in one single day. We get to rub elbows with other seasons because the ones we love often occupy different places on the journey. We are parents to those in springtime and summer. We are children to those experiencing autumn and winter. This is what life looks like. And it can be beautiful and terrible at the same time.
The challenge for us is to be gracious with ourselves and with those who accompany us along the way. The more we fight and tussle and resist the inevitable markers of each season, the more difficult the journey will be; for us and for our loved ones. We know this to be true.
But the good news is that we do not get four seasons—we get five! We begin our lives in springtime and it blossoms into a summer of adulthood. Autumn emerges as we are blessed to age and winter signals the end of our journeys. Each season can be short. Each season can be long. But winter is not the end. Four seasons are not enough.
In Christ Jesus, and because we have been baptized into a death like his, we will experience a resurrection like his!
And that springtime, that moment and season of rebirth, will be like no other. We get five seasons, friends, not four. This is our everlasting hope, and the source of our joy.