I live in the mid-west area of the United States, a place where we experience all the seasons. I can’t imagine living where the leaves don’t turn red and gold or snowflakes don’t drift into fluffy piles – even if the alternative is year-long flowers.
Even so when I decided that a cold but sunny Thursday in early November was the day I would clean up and pack away my “garden in the sky,” I dreaded it. My husband and I daily rejoice in the colorful plants rimming our balcony. Many of them are still blooming. But I knew the end of blossoms and the beginning of dry, dead leaves and stems was near. I pulled out all the plants and put them in big trash bags. I emptied the soil into different trash bags, planning to mix it with new soil in the spring. I brought all the pots into the house, cleaned them and packed then in yet another garbage bag to take down to the garage.
And somewhere during the process, I felt a familiar excitement – even comfort. After all my 75 years of living, it is still true! The seasons still change without any human pushing a button. The cycle of planting, blooming, and dying is ongoing. The late-autumn anti- cipation of the beauty of a snowfall and the yearning for green grass and blooming flowers still exists.
Since most of my experiences in the natural world become metaphors for how I relate to God in the spiritual world (everything is sacred, after all), I began thinking of the cycles of human life and how they call for a response from all of us.
The first response, I think, is to recognize that we experience changing cycles in our lives that are not unlike the change of the seasons. We are infants, seeking, even demanding, care and love. We are joyful and expressive children. We are social and risk-taking adolescent. We are young adults fulfilling our dreams of family and careers. We are middle-aged adults bent down over our responsibilities and fighting off cynicism about the ways of the world. We are aging “seniors,” coping with changes that demand “letting go” and sometimes lay us low physically and mentally.
A second response, as our seasons change, is to understand that we, like the natural world, need to adapt, perhaps mourn, and still anticipate the season coming next. The earthly yearning for that “next season” is fulfilled as we live through spring, summer, fall, and winter. The spiritual yearning is fulfilled when we cross-over from God’s earthly kingdom into the eternal kingdom – still anticipating a season of life with God forever.