Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Changing Seasons

The snow is beginning to melt, patches of grass can now be spotted in what seemed just a week ago to be improbable.  Many felt the snow would be with us well into the the summer months, or so it seemed.  But nature takes care of itself. 

Often times our lives are reflective of the landscapes around us.  There is the spring of our lives, when everything appears new again, when there is hope, when possibilities are limitless.  We bask in the warmth of this opportunity to become, to grow, to evolve into who we are.  We then enter into the summers of our life filled with sunshine and warmth, and speckled with occasional showers and thunder storms.  We enjoy the lazy days it offers, relishing each day, taking the time to notice the special 'flowers' in our life.   Fall and all it's splendor, graces our lives, we mature, we understand, we begin to grasp some of life's lessons, some have taught us well, others leave us memories we wish to forget.  It is a time when we prepare ourselves for the longer, colder days of our winters.  Winter is a very necessary season in our lives.  Like nature, we slow down, we find ourselves in 'hibernation,' and as the days grow shorter.  It is a time when we long for the sunny, warm days of spring.  We all face or will face many winters in our lives, we will have the winters of snow covered landscapes, with a beauty all it's own; and there will also be the barren, ice covered winters, that seem to go on forever.  Each season in our life has it's highs and lows, its promises and disappointments, we however, do weather them just the same.  

As I look back on my life, I now can clearly see the marked seasons, and have come to some understanding of how they have brought me thus far.  There has been more sunshine and warmth, which has been my saving grace in those darker, colder days of winter.  My winters have been many, but not enough to make me cold or cynical, and I am truly grateful for that.  As a child, my life was all spring and summer, I was blessed to have great parents, a large, loving family, and no cares or concerns.  My life was a meadow, filled with an endless field of flowers and all the freedom to explore it.  My teenage years were not too bad either, I earned the respect of my parents, which granted me a certain amount of freedom that many of my peers did not experience, but with it came responsibilities that taught me well, I would venture to say that I had a mini fall in my adolescence.  Oh, I was no saint, but by today's standards I would be as my kids call me, boring.  I had fun my way and loved it.  In these years, I did go through winter, my first experience with the death of a close family member left me in a cold, dark space.  This was something I had not experienced before, and I longed for those happy, carefree days again, when everything was as it should be.  

Of course, like many of you, I have continued to have many more seasons in my life.  There have been many new beginnings or 'springs' in my life.  I married, had children, became a homeowner, made great career choices, and so many, many more positive and life-giving changes in my life.  Each positive change came with a wonderful summer, an enlightening fall, and a winter that allowed us to see the beauty that lay beneath the surface.  

The year my father died, I felt as if that winter would never end, it was a long, cold spell in my life.  This pain was so different from any of the other losses I had experienced, and it seemed it would never go away.  But yet it did, the ice and snow melted away, I could spy the potential blooms, just waiting for the warm sun to smile down on them, and so too, did I survive what I felt was my worst winter ever.  I went through the seasons, reaching the fall with a sense of readiness for whatever life might bring my way, never realizing that an even darker, colder winter lay ahead.  

My darkest winter began on that fateful day in September of 2006 with the death of my firstborn child.  Rachel's death brought me into a winter that has lingered well over 4 years.  This was the type of winter, that hid all beauty, that belied any potential, that gave no glimmer of ever relenting in its coldness and darkness.  This was a time of a deep, heavy-laden pain, and a darkness that didn't appear to let in any light at all.  But like the snow-covered ground, it holds its secrets and promises, and eventually something begins to happen.  The ice thaws, the snow melts, the darkness begins to vanish and hope begins to filter into the vast emptiness.  You begin to feel the promise of spring, a chance to live again, to shake off all the trappings of winter and begin to bloom.  

This is where I find myself, on the threshold of spring.  Yes there is some damage, some scarring, and still a deep pain and soreness, but there is hope.  Like the trees that have lost branches to the weather and wind, we cover up our wounds, we begin to heal, and we stretch up our arms to allow the sun into our lives.  We allow ourselves to find a new wholeness, one filled with the love of all those we miss, all those who have gone from our lives, whether through death, divorce, or simply because each has taken a different path in life.  

Rachel will continue to be a part of every season of my life, only it will be in a way that I have come to learn and understand.  It is by faith that I know she is always with me, and that we will meet again someday, when I am called 'home.'  I pray that my winters will be milder, my springs and summers will be filled with warmth and love, and that as I evolve I will continue to garner the wisdom that fall graciously offers.  

Know that like the seasons change, so too must we change, it is only when we allow this growth that we can become who we truly are.  I have come to know and understand that with faith, love and hope all things can be overcome, that we do indeed survive and that we continually grow.  Allow yourself to learn from the seasons in your life, and know that even if you feel there is no way out of the darkness, eventually hope begins to find a way through, penetrating even the deepest darkness.  Love gives us the tools with which we find faith and hope, after all there is always 'faith, love and hope, with the greatest of these being love.'  

Blessings! and until we meet again.

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