I love autumn. It’s my favourite season of the year. I love the changing of the leaves’ colours. I love the increasing chill in the air. I love the earlier sunsets and the encroaching dark of the evenings. I love the smell of the season, everything from the odor of cinnamon to the scent of people using their woodstoves (alas, we use oil heat). Autumn invites mugs of coffee, tea, hot apple cider, and hot chocolate. At the same time, if it were autumn all year round, I probably wouldn’t enjoy it as much. It’s the changing of the seasons that gives each one its singular pleasures. I love autumn, in part, because it’s not always autumn.
Life has its seasons too. Seasons of life come in different shapes and sizes. Some last longer than others. And when a season is changing, it’s almost like you’re beginning to notice the cumulative effect of incremental change. We experience transitions. Things don’t remain as they were. The pages of life’s calendar continue to turn.
For example, when my family and I moved to Nova Scotia in August of 2014 our twin sons were 5 years old and our daughter was about to turn 10. Now she’s 17 and next February our boys will turn 13. Soon we’ll have a house full of teenagers! And this is definitely a seasonal change. I can feel it in the air of our lives. Whereas for a long time our sons seemed to be stuck in this little boy-young boy phase, now I’m starting to see their transition into older boys-young men. I suspect our house will continue to get smaller as they grow, if you know what I mean. I’m also that much more aware of being middle-aged. Over the last few years my beard has gone from brown with some grey to grey with hints of brown.
Lately my wife and I have been going on more regular walks together. She wants me to get more exercise, but I’m simply enjoying the chance to talk and reflect together. And being aware of this shifting of the seasons in our lives has led to some interesting conversations. We’ve been chatting about what’s important to us, what we want for our family, and what changes, if any, a new season might bring. It’s not so much that we are inclined to make any big decisions anytime soon, but we are finding ourselves almost naturally discussing possibilities and dreams for our future. Thinking ahead, you might say. Certainly we’re more aware than we have been of our stage of life.
Nature has seasons. Life has seasons. And, I think, we as individuals have seasons, personally and spiritually. It might be a function of middle-age, but over the last couple of years in particular I’ve noticed shifts and changes in myself. While I am fundamentally the same person, my priorities and my values and the way I see some things have been adjusting and transitioning. At least at one level, I think of this as God doing his transforming work in my life, of his ongoing realigning of my soul. Put another way, I’ve come to feel differently in my own skin than I did even four or five years ago. More at ease with myself, but still aware of places in need of God’s kind, steady, but determined sculpting of my heart.
The other thing about seasons is that each one carries with it both losses and gains, both difficulties and blessings. And the truth is, we need each of these seasons to become who God wants us to be. We might not want to experience a particular season, but God is at work in each one. I don’t really ever want to turn back the clock or the calendar. Nor am I especially anxious about moving more quickly into the future. What I do want is to be sensitive to different seasons of life on the one hand, and to have my eyes and heart open to the season I am in on the other. I want to live into the reality I am given by God here and now. In this, I usually meet with varying degrees of success.
I don’t necessarily know what all of this means. I can’t say exactly what God is up to and what he’s going to be up to in the days ahead. Like I said, it feels like a transitional season. Perhaps a season God is using to prepare me for something else. That something else might be internal, external, or both. Who knows? All I know is that I have been reflecting on these matters more and more. I am watching my kids grow up. I am seeing changes in me. And when I look outside and see the vibrant shades of the autumn trees, I am grateful that while seasons come and go, each one contains its own unique beauty that reveals the glory and purposes of God.