Posted by : Bettina | November 10, 2015
It is a beautiful autumn day as I sit down to write. The meadow behind my house shimmers gold in the sunlight and the woods beyond it are dabbled in shades of yellow and orange as if a child went over them with finger paint. The October Glory maple trees at the end of my driveway are being true to their name with their brilliant red leaves making a bold statement across the azure sky. Outside the air is crisp and smells faintly of wood smoke and drying leaves. I sit in the sun streaming through my morning room windows and think to myself,”Fall is my favorite season!”
I am thankful to live in the Northeast where each season is distinctly different from the one before it. Soon the color will drop from the trees and the chill of winter will settle in. My meadow will become blanketed in snow and will beckon me to snowshoe across it into the woods where the trees, covered in alabaster, wait for me in icy silence. Chickadees and cardinals will crowd the bird feeders and Christmas lights will twinkle through the darkness. Then there will be snowmelt and returning robins. My Star Magnolia will become cloaked in scented white and the lilacs will unfurl their blue-violet branches. Daffodils will dance gleefully in the breeze and the world will be dressed in dewy green. Finally, summer, the jewel of the Northeast, will arrive in all its emerald splendor. Sailboats and kayaks will skim across the lake and on the shores children will carry on the timeless tradition of creating masterpieces in the sand. The sun will linger long into the evening and Eastern Meadowlarks will call out their flute like trills. And in the midst of each season I will emphatically declare, “This, this one is my favorite!”
I love the changing seasons but I do not enjoy the transitions between them. I want to tarry in each of them and I always feel anxious as one ends and a new one begins. In those in-between times I think only of the things I don’t like; the below zero too cold to be outside temperatures of winter, the drizzly mud days of early spring, the weeds to be pulled under the sweltering sun of summer, or the bleakness of late fall with its barren trees and short days. I forget the thrill of skiing down a mountain slope, or the satisfaction of working in my garden, or the tranquility of an early morning kayak ride. I also forget that in time I will fall in love all over again with the new season.
I find I approach my own seasons of life in the same way. I live firmly planted in the present, not wanting to think about any changes ahead. The passing of time saddens me. I look at all that is beautiful and good around me and I fear that I will never see it again. I forget the joy in seasons past or of all the times I have felt that there was no other place I would rather be than in that very moment of time and I am apprehensive that I will ever feel that way again.
I am in one of those in-between places now. I am six months away from entering a new decade–– my 60’s (gasp)! I would be lying if I said that does not bother me. I do not relish getting older. I do not want to think about the wrinkles that will line my face or the arthritis that will stiffen my joints. I fear the losses that are inevitable. I wish to stay in the present that is so familiar and safe. Yet, just as I as cannot hold on to the halcyon days of summer or the vivid foliage of fall I cannot hold on to this life I live now. I must learn from seasons past so that I can look ahead with anticipation to those ahead.
I think about all I have gained in each stage of life. My teenage years were fraught with insecurity and awkwardness. I learned about depression and unrequited love but I also found my faith and discovered my passions. I was dreadfully shy yet I mustered the courage to try out for the tennis team and persuade my journalism teacher to make me editor-in-chief of the newspaper. I loved the safe shelter of my home but I bravely attended university hours away where I relished my independence. I worried my way through my twenties, wondering what career path to take or if I would ever marry. I changed jobs four times and even my career. I was lonely for close friends. I lost my father to cancer. But I also rose above tough challenges and gained the self-confidence I sorely lacked in my teens. I made lifetime friends and married my true love. My thirties were ushered in with the heart-crushing loss of infertility. I wrestled with hopelessness and despair, yet I learned to persevere through trials. I found happiness and contentment even while dealing with disappointment and unmet expectations. I received two of my greatest joys, my children, and I learned all over again what love was.
So it continued––each season bringing sorrow and jubilance, weeping and mirth, grieving and loving. Treasured memories made. Valuable lessons learned. My faith and hope endured and I grew. And in the midst of every juncture in my life I was able to say, “This, this is my favorite season!”
The whole time I have been writing, the Pete Seeger folksong,”Turn! Turn! Turn!”, (as sung by the Byrds), has been playing in my head. “To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” The words are straight out of the book of Ecclesiastes. It is easy to see the purpose in each of the earth’s seasons but it is less easy to see them in ours. But each year, each decade that we live on earth is to have meaning and purpose. Each season we live builds on the one preceding it, refining us, and leading us closer to who we are meant to be.
I think of all this as I look ahead. I will be anxious. There will be long days of living in winter darkness and trudging through spring mud but there will be the aching beauty of awakening springs and the comfort of summer warmth. I will be growing older but my life will be rich with all that my preceding years have given me. I still have so much to look forward to, so much of life yet to live. There are people to invest in and dreams to fulfill and places to visit, I will find new reasons for living and an even greater purpose for my life than I have now. And, in the midst if it all, I will say, with great joy,“This season has been my most favorite yet!”
How do you feel about the next season in your life?