Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Ecclesiastes 3: 3-8,

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Life comes with seasons.  It's not just the weather that occurs in a pattern of seasons but our lives do too.  In the last few months I have read a few books that have reminded me of this theme and I've been wanting to write about this for awhile.  I guess it took the season of winter, a snowy day where school (work) was canceled to give me the time to get to it.
Life begins with spring.  It's the birth of new things.  New life, new adventure, new joy and new hope.  It's a time where we anticipate the future, where we marvel at the wonder of life and find amazement in the newness of so many things.  We begin to make plans, we begin to think ahead and wonder about the future.  We ready ourselves up for the adventure we are about to take. We pray with thankful hearts, with anticipation and happiness.
Summer comes in the form of that adventure.  We spend our time having fun but we also spend our days working hard at times.  We set goals and strive to meet them.  We gather with family and friends to celebrate the beginnings of new life together, to celebrate the years of life loved ones have had together.  We find great joy in being together with friends and family, of taking trips and holidays, of relaxing and enjoying our time together.  It is easy to be thankful, to praise God for these good times.  It so easy to see the goodness of our lives and that makes it easy to say thanks. 
But all too soon fall arrives.  It's time to get back to reality, to get back to work and to prepare ourselves for another season to come.  We wind things down, we put things away.  We wrap up loose ends and we prepare for quieter times. We prepare for moments that we anticipate are coming and we reflect on our recent adventures.  We see the colours around us change and we watch as signs of life begin to go through their own changes.  We are saddened to see these changes coming and we don't always feel like being happy, like being grateful. 
And then winter arrives.  Cold and dark at times, bright and sunny at others...but almost always colder then what we remembered, then what we are prepared for, then what we want.  We long for warmth, for sunny days, sunny times.  We look fondly at pictures of the fun times of gone by and wish we could go back.  We think we'd like to venture outside but we take a few cautious steps out and we retreat back, intimidated by the cold, afraid of darkness and frigid temperatures. Sometimes we feel like winter will never end, like we'll never be out of this deep freeze, like we'll never feel the warm sunshine again, like there is nothing we can do to get out of the depression winter brings about.  We long for happier times but we can't see how we'll ever get there again.  
But then, ever so slowly, the days get a little longer and a little warmer.  The snow starts to melt, the days seem less dreary, less intimidating.  The sun warms the ground and the snow begins to melt just as it warms our hearts and the ice around us begins to melt.  
Soon you can feel spring in the air and you are filled with hope. 

It's not just that life is like this but really that life IS this.  We begin with life, with birth, and we go on an adventure.  In the end life slows and eventually stops.  But as it stops, new life begins.  But it's not just the life cycle that changes like the seasons but things in our life also have a season, we have seasons.  
One of the hardest seasons for people to negotiate is the winter...the lack of hopeful times, the memories of happy times you can't get back, the fear that the darkness will never end.  We long for change but don't know how to bring it about.  We long for the sadness and trials to be over and we fear they never will be.  
Grief and loss are part of winter.  Sometimes it is the loss of a loved one but sometimes it is the anticipated loss of that loved one...the time when a loved one is dying and there is nothing we can do to stop it.  We watch their life fade and we long for happier times, healthier times.  Once they have passed we just want to go back to summer...why can't we just go back to warmth, happiness, sunshine.  We look around us at all the mountains of snow and wonder how we'll move it or climb over it.  We feel so alone at times, so lost.
But as with the season of winter, the season of grief does end.  Spring does come.  Hope can be found.  We discover we aren't alone.  Not only are their friends and family there to comfort and support us but God is always there too.  When we are ready, God reaches into the bleak winter of our hearts and he plants the seeds of life flowers.  Those flowers take root, they push out the darkness, the cold, the bleakness and they bring in the warmth of spring, the sunshine and light, the hope of new life.  The chunks of ice and snow gradually melt into puddles of joy and laughter.  Winter is long, the season of grief is long and indescribably difficult but new life is budding, waiting to bloom.  Sunshine prevails, embrace it's hope and let's it's warmth bring joy into your life.  

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