“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.”
If you’ve joined previous conversations here at Readplenish, an underlying theme soon becomes apparent — our need to take the long view of life, especially while walking and working through the hard stuff. On a personal note, this truth has been transformative. Not only is it biblical and therefore good on every level, all along the way it has proven grounding, “… a hope, as an anchor for the soul.” (Heb. 6:19) And while a broad brush stroke is rarely an accurate way to paint anything, this long view can be a very pragmatic lens, effectually filtering out both cynicism and sentimentality.
That being said, the other side of the coin is also worth exploring. For lack of a better way to say this, I’ve adopted a common phrase from the world of horticulture — living seasonally. Fully inhabiting the present. Allowing the hope of spring, the abundance of summer, and the harvest of autumn to sustain us through the long cold nights of winter. The ancient poetry of Ecclesiastes can hardly be improved upon: “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—a time to cry, a time to laugh; a time to grieve, a time to dance” (Ecc. 3:1,4). However, regardless of the season in life, we can know with absolute certainty: “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”(Lamentations 3:22-23)
Here at Readplenish we explore daily choices to fill our minds and hearts with elevated thoughts of God and who we are in Him and, in doing so, shifting our focus from adversity to the One who has promised to work everything for my good and His glory. We’re reminded He who made the seasons understands with tender care the good each one brings on this path to “become conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom 8:29). You see, the winters of our lives often require that we “set our paper face to the storm” (1), a painfully accurate description of how vulnerable the blowing gale can make us feel. When I look back at the darkest days of a few years ago, it’s clear I was almost numb to everything except the pain. Perpetually anxious to “just get past this” and on to the refreshing days of spring. Longing for the calendar to quickly shed its pages and usher in a new and better season of life. I can’t help but wonder how many divinely bestowed, beautiful moments slipped by without so much as a glance from me. Sadly, I cannot get them back. And so, I’m learning to be intentional about this. Even as I keep the long view in mind, it’s about taking notice of each small and good gift that graces our journey, noting the sacred in the midst of the secular, and allowing common simple goodness to foster as much delight as the exceptional. Pausing to give thanks and pray. To engage all of my senses as I see the beauty of each new day blooming alongside the thorns. I can’t help but recall this hymn:
“When all thy mercies, O my God
My rising soul surveys;
Transported with the view I’m lost
In wonder, love, and praise.
Unnumbered comforts to my soul
Thy tender care bestowed,
Before my infant heart could know
From whom those comforts flow.”
Joseph Addison (1712)
Embracing seasonality will look as different to each us as our stories are different. But perhaps you can relate to these thoughts I scribbled today as I was reflecting on this:
// THE HOPE OF SPRING // – watching seeds we planted long ago suddenly sprout in places and in ways we could not have imagined. These seeds may represent moments in time when faith really took root in our minds and hearts, when we grasped what could be if we but water and nurture these tender shoots of hope, not allowing weeds of bitterness or despair to choke them out. To fully enjoy the flourishing that follows the pain of pruning.
// THE ABUNDANCE OF SUMMER // – living out of the bounty of His grace with a heart overflowing in thanksgiving for His never-changing faithfulness. Choosing thankfulness and gratitude to mark our thoughts, actions, and words.
// THE HARVEST OF AUTUMN // – a time to metaphorically stack the fire wood, stock the pantry, replenish the oil and light the lamps; to make sure all that really matters is safely gathered in so when the long cold nights of winter come (and they will), they cannot deplete the good things we’ve stored away in our minds and hearts to nourish and encourage us as we trust Him for all that is needful. That’s what winters do best — they remind us of our constant need to live in a “fixed and settled dependence” (2) on Him. Here’s a great quote from Rachel Carson: “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
Living seasonally means
I no longer see myself
as a passive victim
to the ravages of winter
but am transplanted to a place
where I actively engage in all
He has purposed for my life —
His beautiful work of growing
and shaping me —
the renewal of all things
through Jesus Christ.
Is it possible to live seasonally keeping the long view in mind? The short answer is most definitely “Yes”! Once again the ancient poet says it best: “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart”. (Ecc. 3:11) It’s all part of His perfect provision — and it is always enough.
(1) Samuel Rutherford “The Lovliness of Christ”
(2) William Romaine “Treatises on the Life, Walk, and Triumph of Faith”